ERPCX Blog

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ERPCX Fast Track Job Matching

February 26th, 2011

By Herbert Goertz

Here is more good news for ERPCX members looking to put their careers on a fast track. If you post your resume on our Resume Posting page, your resume will be fast tracked for consideration on job opportunities marked “Fast Tracked” on the Service Posting page.

Anyone can still apply for any opportunity. But not everyone will get Fast Tracked. If a job is marked Fast Tracked it means your resume will automatically be reviewed for that job — if your resume is posted on the Resume Posting page.

That puts you at the head of the line. An opportunity might be for full-time employment, part-time employment, a contract job, or a position on our own ERPCX Virtual Consulting Team.

In the future, you will notice that more and more jobs will be marked Fast Tracked.

To post your resume, you need to enter all the information requested on our Resume Posting page and attach your resume. Entering your information lets us search your resume for skills and experience directly in a database, without doing a keyword search. Database searches are faster and more accurate than keyword searches.

There is no charge for posting your resume. However professional resume writing is available for a fee.  Here is a sample of what our professionally written resumes look like. Notice that resumes are available both as a downloadable PDF and as a standalone website, which you can host at ERPCX. A personal website tells people you are a true professional and is a fast and easy way to sell yourself. To get a resume writing price quote, simply send an email with your current resume attached to: erpcx@me.com.

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ERPCX Welcomes SAP Users

February 10th, 2011

By Herbert Goertz

As announced in my last post, the ERPCX is adding a third member category — users. Why users?  Because every “solution” needs them.

Have you ever sat in a meeting of SAP consultants and users — like when the users are giving feedback on a system the consultants just designed? It can be painful, especially for the consultants.  No matter how great the consultants think their new system is — even if it is “bug free” — users will have their own opinions. They have a perspective and knowledge that no one else does — not the consultants and not the customers (unless the customers are users too).

Users also have the most to lose. Like the decision-makers who actually buy SAP, users’ careers and incomes depend on how well the software performs. But SAP buyers don’t have to live with the software every day. It’s not facing them every morning when they come to work. With few exceptions, senior executives don’t sit in front of a computer screen all day. If something about the software is slow or hard to use, it’s the user who has to make up the difference by working harder or finding workarounds.

We want to tap into that knowledge and perspective, because we think our other members — consultants and customers — will benefit. So we invite users to participate in our blogs and online discussion threads.

But the ERPCX also offers benefits that users will like. For example, they can use the same career tools that consultants use – like resume posting, job boards, and access to SAP systems for training. They can also use many of the same services we offer SAP customers, like help desk and operations support (e.g., sales order entry).

And because this is an “exchange,” our SAP user members can even “exchange” roles to become part-time virtual consultants themselves — like working on the virtual helpdesk, in operations support, or as a virtual consulting team member.  We think that by bringing all three sides of the SAP project together — consultants, customers, and users — in an ongoing exchange, each side will benefit enormously from the other two.

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Want To Protect Your Consulting Rates?

November 11th, 2010

Well, this is my first blog at the ERP Consulting Exchange and I am very excited about it.  More than anything else I want to hear from you.  This blog is about and for our consulting members.   So please speak up.  The good, the bad, the ugly!

Thank you for the overwhelming response to my first email.  Your feedback was great.  I had asked you to tell me what your biggest problem or concern is.  And I got it.  Keep the emails coming.

One subject that I heard about was how to maximize your income and to keep your billing rates up.  Here is what one of our members wrote, Daniel W., of New York, “Chris, my biggest problem is justifying my rates, all the time it is discount discount discount.  Everyone wants $1000 a day experience for $500 and little or no expenses.  And then there is the cost of finding the project…”.

Well Daniel, there is no easy answer but I came across this article today and thought it was very interesting.  You know here at the ERP Consulting Exchange we are just that, an exchange where we bring together customers, users, and consultants.  We are not recruiters.  Not that we have anything against them, but, truth be-told a lot of times  we see them eat your margin–and a lot of it.  Often there several recruiters involved and that $1000 a day is being billed to the customer but by the time it gets to you it is $600 a day.

Here is a great article from SmartMoney titled “10 Things Employment Recruiters Won’t Say“.  My personal favorite was #3.

What do we say?  If you can–avoid them.  It can help you keep more of your worth.

Post your thoughts below.

Thanks,
Chris

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ERPCX Appoints VP Member Services as Categories Grow

November 10th, 2010

By Herbert Goertz

We have made two significant changes to our member services this month.  First, I am very proud to announce the appointment of Chris Terry as Vice President, Member Services.  And, second, we have expanded our member categories to now include SAP users, in addition SAP customers and SAP consultants.  Both changes point to a very aggressive 2011 as we aim to become (in Chris’s words) “the single most valuable resource hub for all things SAP” with over 10,000 members.

Chris has been a colleague and friend for over 15 years — going back to when we were at SETAC, the first North American SAP consulting practice. I have deep respect for Chris as a technology pioneer.  He founded one of the very first Internet Services Providers in the United States — Florida Internet — and co-founded one of the first SAP application service providers — HostLogic — that grew to over 100 full-time employees with offices in the US, Europe, South America and Asia.  Spun off to its European management team in 2000, HostLogic is now one of Eastern Europe’s top 50 IT companies.  More recently, Chris has been the Managing Partner at Nextshore, a global information technology service company that specializes in Internet marketing and web development.

Chris’s role here will be to recruit members, increase and improve member services, and open channels of communication across our (now three) member types — users, customers and consultants.  So you’ll be hearing a lot from Chris.

Adding users as a third member category was a no-brainer.  Without users there are no customers or consultants. It is the users’ ability to work more productively that ultimately gives SAP its value.  Consequently, they make a huge — and often unappreciated  — contribution to the SAP ecosystem.  We are happy to include them.

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ECX Expands in China and Texas

October 14th, 2010

By Herbert Goertz

Our Country Ambassadors Program gives investors and entrepreneurs an opportunity to represent the ERP Consulting Exchange in their local markets.  Each one is an ECX “point of presence” for companies looking to engage globally based virtual consulting either domestically or out at their distant locations.

Two obvious targets for this program are U.S. companies that do business in China and Chinese companies that do business in the U.S.  That’s why one of our top priorities this year has been to sign up Country Ambassadors in China — and also expand our physical presence in the U.S.  So I am especially proud to announce our first two Chinese Country Ambassadors — one based in Hong Kong, the other in Beijing — as well as our second branch office, this one in Austin, Texas.

In Hong Kong, our Country Ambassador is David Woodward, a principal with the TMAX Group, a Hong Kong-based agent specializing in sourcing and product development for numerous retailers, consumer product firms and multinational brands.  TMAX brings in its branch offices in mainland China as well as numerous and extensive contacts to China based manufacturing companies, all possible customers of the ECX. 

Our Beijing-based agent is Liming Hou, who also acts as the Managing Director of the ECX in China. He and I were also partners back in 2002 when together we successfully launched MeiDa Information Technology. MeiDa was the maker of ChinaMainframe™, the first pre-configured SAP stack specifically optimized for small and medium Chinese companies. In addition to his own considerable entrepreneurial talents, Liming also brings a strategic partnership with a very large public traded Chinese IT consulting firm, which will also help facilitate ECX expansion in China.

Our presence in the U.S. is expanding as well with the recent opening of our Austin office, which along with our headquarters in Winter Springs, Florida and our branch office in San Diego, California provides a distributed physical presence across the U.S.

All this is happening as ECX membership approaches 4,000 — and there is still almost a full quarter left in 2010!  For the rest of the year we will be strongly focused on leveraging all our partnerships with the goal to attract many new ones for 2011 — both members and customers!

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The Virtual Big 1

September 13th, 2010

By Herbert Goertz

When we blogged about the “Big 4” audit firms rebooting their SAP practices we said that smaller, more cost-effective and more agile consulting practices should not panic.  This is not a one-size-fits-all market and consultants of all stripes should do what they always do — which is to rely on their own natural comparative advantages to prosper.

But there is a much more important question than whether the Big 4 will crowd out other players. That is whether any consulting model will ever again dominate the same way the Big 6, or the Big 8, once did.

Just like the dinosaurs, the big audit firms lost dominance because the world changed. This was back in the day when not only the audit firms were king, but so was the client server computing model and the highly centralized enterprises that it fit.  Today’s landscape, of course, is radically different. Consultants and their clients are much more networked, knowledge resources have been virtualized, and the result is a much more commoditized environment. Even small value advantages are universally transparent and immediately transferrable. Likewise, value disadvantages are immediately transparent and unsustainable. That’s a tough place for the large, classic, hierarchical consulting organization to play.

So the real question is not “Whence cometh the Big 4?”  The real question is “Who will be the Virtual Big 1?”  In other words, who will be the first consulting firm that will organize resources virtually to maximize value in this new environment — rather than subtract value by pretending the world is unchanged?

Just by looking at that environment it is already clear what the Virtual Big 1 will look like. Much more talent will be applied virtually over the Internet, rather than physically by traveling to the client’s site. Teams will be much more flexible — the Virtual Big 1 will be able to mix and match team members very quickly based on project dynamics rather than on institutional mandates. There will be much less “sitting on the bench” waiting for something to happen. Much more of the client’s dollar will come back to the client in the form of better ERP systems rather than will go out the door in travel, food and other non-performing costs.

And here’s what’s really clear:  when the environment changes, it is always those who adapt first who thrive best. Rather than resist the new consulting model, consultants and clients should embrace it.

Posted in Herberts Blog | 2 Comments »

The Big 4 Are Back. Now What?

August 3rd, 2010

By Herbert Goertz

Now that the Big 4 audit firms (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, and KPMG) have restarted their SAP consulting practices, what does that mean for the rest of us?  Ralph Kierberg, for one, thinks it doesn’t bode well.  (See his discussion on the SETAC / KPMG Alumni Group page on LinkedIn.) He predicts the big firms will crowd out smaller players. They’ll either acquire them outright or overpower them with bigger resources, broader geographic reach and higher-level client contacts.  Market consolidation will mean more competition than we have now.

Actually the result of consolidation is usually the opposite — since consolidation by definition, leaves fewer players in the market, hence less competition.

Also, the Big 4 will probably charge high prices. They’ll have to overcome the perception they don’t really care about this business — having already left it once. Smaller clients may fear they’ll be neglected in favor of bigger clients. And big consulting firms often have the reputation (justified or not) of being inflexible and slow. In short, I can think of lots of reasons why the Big 4 won’t be big competition for most SAP consultants.

But here’s the real question — what is the ideal SAP consulting organization?  Is it always a certain size? Is it even always a single company?

The SAP consulting market has never been one size fits all.  And that’s even more true now when projects tend more than ever to require different kinds of talents in different locations for different amounts of time at a moment’s notice.

That’s what’s so great about the virtual consulting model.  We can mix and match consultants by SAP specialty, industry experience, languages spoken — or any of a dozen other variables — and deploy that expertise at Internet speed while dramatically reducing non-productive costs, especially travel.

None of this is going to change regardless of what the Big 4 audit firms do.  Clients will want great consultants regardless of where they work.

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Key ECX Benchmarks Show Global Reach

July 6th, 2010

By Herbert Goertz

As we start the second half of 2010, I want to share some significant benchmarks reflecting our organization’s growth in size and capabilities. In terms of size, the ECX currently has:

  • Over 3,500 members
  • Distributed across 62 countries with
  • 50% in the Americas
  • 27% in Europe, Middle East and Africa
  • 23% in Asia-Pacific

As for capabilities, ECX members practice in a growing number of specialties:

  • 27% in SAP Basis/BI
  • 25% in SAP management
  • 15% in SAP SCM
  • 9% in SAP Financials
  • 7% in SAP HCM
  • 6% in SAP SD-CRM
  • 11% in other specialties

Members have an average of eight years SAP experience. One hundred of us (with 15 years average SAP experience) provide quality control on the ECX Virtual Helpdesk — prequalifying other members to sit on the helpdesk and making sure helpdesk questions and answers contain sufficient information.

Here’s the key takeaway from these benchmarks:

The ECX Virtual Helpdesk is providing efficient, flexible and deep access to senior SAP talent worldwide 24/7. It is therefore an ideal solution, not only for companies seeking on-demand helpdesk support virtually anywhere, but also for companies that need widely deployed local country knowledge — such as for an international rollout.

That’s where we are today, and from here the ECX is only going to get bigger and better.

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Why Not an Association for SAP Consultants?

June 1st, 2010

By Herbert Goertz

There is strength in numbers. That is why there are SAP user groups like ASUG and partner groups like the IA4SP (International Association for SAP Partners). They exist because members have shared interests they can advance better collectively than they can individually. For example, groups are better than individuals in their ability to:

  • Bargain for preferred rates of payments and discounts
  • Create political support for government or industry actions
  • Establish standards of member performance and certificates of compliance
  • Evaluate, approve, and in some cases deliver, services of value to members
  • Offer educational programs that promote member professionalism
  • Educate everyone on the good work done by members

This concept obviously isn’t new. During the Renaissance, independent craftspeople organized guilds for precisely the same reasons. Take apprenticeship. The guilds invented apprenticeship as a way for customers to recognize certain people as masters of their craft — not for any altruistic purpose, but simply so masters could get paid more. The guild’s stamp of approval meant something — because the guild meant something — for members and for customers. Guilds knew that one of the best ways to raise rates was to protect customers from amateurs and frauds. And they also knew they could only do this as a collective group, not as independent freelancers.

So why not have an association for independent SAP consultants?  The answer is that, in their hearts, most independent SAP consultants still don’t believe they need one. All they know is a culture that says the best way to win is for their competition (i.e., other consultants) to lose. Those days are long gone, of course, but old thinking dies hard.

The objective reality today is that consultants would do much better if they belonged to an independent association with strong leadership, high standards and high-value services for members and SAP clients. But such an association can’t be imposed from outside by a vendor. It has to come from the consultants themselves.  They need to organize it if the association is to attract members and have any real authority. Members might wish to hire professional management, sure, but at the end of the day the association would have to truly be “by SAP consultants for SAP consultants.”

Does anyone want to talk about how to get this started?  Comment here or send me an email.

Posted in From the ERP CONSULTING EXCHANGE | 1 Comment »

Virtual Consulting — The SME Solution

April 26th, 2010

By Herbert Goertz

In his recent blog post http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/manufacturing/saps-sme-solutions-a-guide-to-the-product-portfolio-1042010/ Software Advice CEO Don Fornes provides an excellent breakdown of the SAP product portfolio.  He compares SAP’s four main product families (Business Suite, Business All-in-One, Business One, and Business ByDesign) by size, functionality, industry coverage, deployment options and cost of ownership.

As a case study of “you get what you pay for,” the article brings into sharp focus how much SAP’s SME (small and mid-size enterprise) strategy is still very much a work in progress — ever since the 1990s.  SMEs unable to spend at least in the high six figures must choose either Business One, a completely on-premise solution, or Business ByDesign, a totally SaaS offering.  In addition to being either all hosted or all not hosted, both also have significant gaps in functionality and range of industries when compared to their big brothers.  After so many years, this is not exactly the seamless product continuum one might expect from the leader of what is clearly a maturing market.

While that might not be great for SAP’s image, it’s also not great for SMEs.  Typically, they must fill in product gaps themselves.  And then when they grow out of the SME stage, they must also invest in a completely new ERP product set.

But what is perhaps more disturbing than the product gaps are the support gaps.  Business ByDesign is pretty much hands off when it comes to customization and integration.  As for Business One, it is not even “real” SAP, but rather (to quote Don) “a completely different product … developed in Microsoft .Net technologies.”  SAP expects third parties to perform much of the product development, customization and integration for Business One — leaving each SME to build its own support network.

This is also, then, a story of how the not-so-rich often end up paying a greater portion of their wealth than the rich for less value.  In the Business ByDesign case, settling for out-of-the-box functionality is neither a cost-free or riskless option since it probably puts the business in a higher cost, less competitive position.  In the Business One case, building your own support network obviously carries overhead costs and technical risks that, while significant, will likely never show up on an accounting ledger.

All of which helps explain why virtual — or cloud-based — consulting will become an SME support strategy of choice.  That is if the virtual partner meets certain criteria:

  • The partner provides the same SLAs (service level agreements) that SAP itself will guarantee a large enterprise
  • The typical overhead costs of mapping appropriate consulting resources to the client are transferred from the client to the virtual provider
  • Direct costs (e.g., consultant travel) are minimized, reducing SMEs’ per-user support costs to levels more consistent with larger-scale ERP implementations
  • Services are finely scalable so the SME never faces disruptive support investments in response to its own growth or change
  • The partner is adept at tailoring and mixing hosted and on-premise software for leveraging best-of-breed functionality, industry coverage and cost

An SME that pays less than the larger enterprise should not get less value in terms of consulting quality, investment protection or lower risk.  Indeed, they should probably get more value simply because they face product gaps that larger enterprises never see. Those gaps — in both product and support — will inevitably drive more SMEs to adopt the virtual consulting model.

 

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