Utility infielders are critical pieces of a successful baseball team. They are not everyday players and often are not even starters. They play many positions and roles, many of which are only consistent if there is an immediate or urgent need created by an injury to a starter. So, what makes them so important to a winning team – and how is this skill set important to good ERP consultants?

The Role of Utility Infielders

In the pros, the baseball season is a long enduring journey that stretches 162 regular season games, spanning six months. Most players, either due to rest or injury, don’t play in every game. For those who do, there are situations where they may not play all nine innings.

Utility infielders play several infield positions, allowing a single person specializing in four or more positions to fill in gaps throughout the season. They provide breaks and strategic advantages in games as defensive specialists. They may serve as pinch hitters or pinch runners where speed can create a competitive advantage. Behind the scenes, they add a layer of depth to a team that cannot be created by someone who has a singular specialty.

The ERP Consultant’s Role as Utility Infielder

In the ERP consulting world, the thought of supplementing bench strength from “behind the scenes” can be an incredible asset. Talented consultants can fill multiple gaps and provide cross-functional expertise at critical times - like during long, tiring digital transformations.

I worry when I hear of a company outsourcing its entire project to big ERP systems integrators or big consultants. Likewise, I admire those companies that bring in uniquely qualified resources to supplement their internal team’s talents. In my experience, there’s a direct correlation to greater results by adding tactical resources before, during or after key stage gates of the project.

Businesses that take this approach recognize the importance of “owning” the result. They will also look for independent consultants that meld well with the culture of their organization – a differentiator that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Consultants who specialize in one area of expertise – while valuable – don’t provide a wholistic view of how to successfully anticipate business challenges across the org. If you need a specific specialty, great. However, if your company hasn’t replaced or updated its systems in quite a while, trust me when I say without knowing what the critical adjacencies/impacts are to other areas of your company, you may strike out.

You’ll run into people that gravitate towards what they know or have worked with. Ever encounter the Oracle enthusiast? They will see this software as your only solution – regardless of fit or price. Adding a “utility consultant” to your bench allows for a more strategic unbiased view that helps integrate individual pieces into the bigger picture. This is true for an ERP software selection as well as implementation.

Utility ERP Consultants Can Integrate the Big Picture

Utility consultants can also pivot into specialized gaps for short term needs. They may facilitate Kaizen events or focus groups to identify targeted improvements to process or organizational change management tactics. Once completed, they hand the work back to the client who then returns to the position of everyday starter, managing new processes and organizational models. This allows for the transfer of knowledge and management of the business by those who know their company best.

ERP software won’t reinvent your company - period. Well thought out process improvements, adopted by your employees and supported by new modern ERP software is the ticket.

We often recommend “backfilling” key internal positions so knowledgeable internal members can be totally devoted to your digital transformation. Unfortunately, the business often gets in the way of this scenario happening. Your “A team” players are not easy to extract from key business duties.

This is another area where utility consultants can step in and learn the home field advantage by strategically using your SMEs without sucking up all of their time. It’s not unusual to lose (yes, they’ll quit) key team members if you’re expecting them to reinvent your processes and systems, while maintaining top performance in their day-to-day jobs. Plan and plan smartly.

A good independent ERP consultant is like a utility infielder because they’re brought into the game intentionally, not just because they’re available. Their involvement is strategic and targeted to specific needs at specific times. Once that need is served, the position returns to your internal team. Without additional experienced resources, expect gaps or inefficiencies. Simply put, cost overruns and timing delays occur in most ERP initiatives.

Alternate Perspectives

Don’t underestimate the value of a fresh set of eyes – someone who can help manage or contribute to different phases. A “GPS” of sorts to help keep you on track or suggest alternate routes. Digital transformation initiatives have a complex lifecycle, which calls for getting creative with your resources as part of your launch strategy.
Most ERP initiatives take longer than a baseball season. At some point in your initiative you’ll be asked to report on KPIs and eventually ROI. Adding a utility infielder can deliver measurable impact. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your digital transformation or ERP implementation initiative. We are happy to help!

Cheatham, Adam
Adam Cheatham

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