Being an Odoo Consultant is rewarding both financially and career wise. Most of Organizations have an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementation in place. These companies need regular Application & Production Support, Maintenance, Upgrades, Migrations, Minor or Major enhancements to the systems and much more. There are still numerous growing organizations which are going for a full end-to-end ERP implementation to support their business growth.
This clearly indicates that a career in ERP Consulting is only going to get bigger and better.
Since you are here to read about becoming an ERP Consultant, you would certainly want to know the basics of ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning. So let us touch upon the very basic fundamentals of what an ERP system is all about-
What is an ERP?
ERP systems are a set of integrated business applications or modules which are mapped to common business functions like finance, payroll, sales & distribution, etc. in real time with a common database.
The basic utility of an ERP system is to track & maintain transactional records, generate business critical reports and maintain overall visibility & transparency across the organization. You can find a complete blog to understand the basics of ERP so we will not go deeper into explaining it here.
It is now widely used across industries - production, manufacturing, logistics, airline, shipping, retail, medical, education, media, tourism, hospitality, transportation and banking services.
No wonder the opportunities for professionals trained in ERP is witnessing rapid growth and most often it doesn’t require complex technical or computer knowledge to be certified as an ERP professional . This is because ERP implementation is more of understanding a business process rather than software –hardware implementation and managing databases.
Here are three broad areas to build a career in ERP
Firstly let us understand the role of an ERP consultant. An ERP consultant is instrumental in ERP Planning, Selection and Implementation of ERP System and helps to align the business processes to the ERP modules. ERP Consultants are required right from design phase to the post-implementation and support phase.
Functional consultants are a key link in the ERP chain- they are drawn from various specialties such as Human Resources, Sales and Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Material management and Inventory.
They understand the client’s business processes, suggest improvements and map the requirements onto the ERP system like Odoo ERP. In one word, they act as an interface between the end user / client and the ERP. They work to provide the as-Is and To-Be State of the business processes, project blueprints, prepare workflows, configure global project settings, end user trainings and much more.
Functional Consultants are experts in their particular area of business. They usually have worked in core business functions for a good period of their career.
Now that we have covered the basics of what the roles of an ERP Consultant are, let’s learn some more about the actual actions one can take to become an ERP consultant -
Human Resources (HR) consultants usually have an MBA background in HR and undergo a course in Human Capital Management (HCM), HR module of Odoo ERP. Human Resource is responsible for maintenance of payroll, recruitment, compensation, training and administration. These topics are covered in HCM packages and managers have the freedom to specialize in area for training purpose. HR ERP consultants are responsible for defining the structure, data requirements, configuration, processes and operations in HR module that is implemented as part of ERP.
Those with MBA in Finance or having a bachelors/masters degree in commerce can opt for Financial Accounting module, CO –Controlling (Management Accounting). There are two components in finance- one is maintaining accounts and second is controlling costs. The Finance Department is responsible for cash management, maintaining ledgers, bank accounts, taxation, asset management, balance sheets, profit and loss (PL) statement and related tasks. The CO module is more attuned to manufacturing department where they have to control costs, assess the costs and work with marketing teams to improve profitability in regions where performance is lower.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) modules are meant for solution providers. They need to have a basic understanding of order fulfilment, sale and business processing. The content convers sales, marketing, web channel, field applications, analytics, customer interaction and so on. Once a student completes training, he or she may be eligible for appearing in the global certification. HR consultant be employed full time in a company or work as independent consultants or trainers.
In logistics, for marketing and sales professionals, there is the sales and distribution module. This is an important function in an organization which involves sending quotations, creating sales orders, billing, and integration with inventory, finance and other departments. They are more closely integrated with Materials Management and Production Planning. Some of the functional features in SD are pricing, taxation, credit management, product availability, output determination and so on. The module is suited for MBA marketing professionals, sales executives and related professionals.
Some common facts about functional consultants
- Functional consultants can be employed full time in a company which has an ERP implementation or they can work as functional consultants in consulting firms. Career begins as Trainee, then Associate Consultant, Consultant, Senior Consultant, Team Leader and Project Manager. They will be working for different clients throughout the career.
- Functional consultancy is not just about having a basic degree in marketing, finance, HR accounting, global certification but more so about having domain knowledge, a good understanding of business processes, good configuration skills, team player and communication savvy.
- One of the key role of functional consultant is the configuration of the module which involves mapping the existing business process requirements and aligning them to ERP standards. Therefore, the key requirement of a functional consultant is domain knowledge and understanding of the business processes within the organization and how functional modules work in ERP systems.
- There are some courses that can be done along with regular MBA, BBA, MCom, BCom, programs that enable students to be certified by the time they pass out of college.
While Functional consultants define the business process, requirements and do the configuration part with the Odoo system or other vendors, it is the technical consultants who do the programming part of the job. There are three layers in an ERP system- the Application Layer, Presentation Layer and Database Layer. The Presentation Layer is the Graphical User Interface (GUI) through which end users input data, see the reports and output. Application layer is where all the programming is being done and Database layer is where all the data is stored for access in real time.
Some common facts about technical consultants
- Most technical consultants are from an engineering or technical programming background. Technical Consultants work primarily on providing technical solutions. They help in customizing certain areas of the ERP system to suit the custom business needs. The consultant develops, customizes, maintains and supports ERP Applications. They usually take functional specifications from users or functional consultants.
- Typical tasks where a technical consultant is required are to Support & troubleshoot existing forms & reports developments, Database structure design, creation of SQL packages, functions and procedures, Integration and Interfacing.
- ○ Technical consultants should have very strong understanding of the concepts of PL/SQL, relational databases, etc.
The programming part of ERP is done in Object Oriented Programming language.
- To get skilled, you have to go through rigorous training programs which improve your technical or functional abilities significantly. Employers value the knowledge you would have gained with such training activities. You will have better chances of landing a job of your dreams with improvement in your credibility during the interviews. Skills will make you a more marketable candidate in the job markets.
- While your peers fumble when new tasks are thrown at them, you will excel at these tasks as you will be well prepared for them. This gives you a clear competitive advantage to get noticed and rise higher than your competition.
So far we found two watertight compartments in ERP- technical and functional consultants. But there is a third category of professionals who are called techno-functional consultants in ERP who perform both technical and functional roles in an organization. Technical consultants working on various modules such as HRM, Sales, CRM, FRM, SCM, PRM, etc., gradually understand the business processes involved and this helps them map the scenarios apart from doing the programming part which they are already skilled at.
With changing technologies including different types of ERP implementation processes, consultants in those specific skills both in techno-functional areas are in huge demand, according to analysts.
How can you become an ERP Consultant?
- Learn the Basics of ERP Just get the basic fundamentals right. Try to learn how and why companies need ERP and what the business results are. Get an overview of the different ERP modules and what business functions they map onto.
- Get Assignment / Live Project Experience Working on live projects and hands-on experience is crucial right from the early stages of your ERP consulting career. Programs like Train and Deploy help candidates get employed directly after completing course and dive into real world client assignments. The more projects you undertake, the more confident and skilled you become to face even greater challenges.
ERP is about understanding of business processes and how it integrates with various solutions developed by vendors. Understanding the business processes and its requirements are paramount to success of ERP implementation and hence the demand for good quality functional consultants. On the other hand, much of the technology side work is done by Technical people who handle a variety of tasks and responsibilities.
Programming skills required in ERP is limited to Object Oriented programming and hence engineering graduates may not have great opportunities unless they combine functional skill as well.
There is a latent demand for good quality trainers and hence many consultants are also being hired for training by consulting companies. Part-time and freelance opportunities are also being advertised across India and various emerging nations.
The world of ERP Consulting is vast and still evolving with new solutions and platforms. Hence, professionals need to keep updating their skills frequently to stay on top. Keep taking refresher courses to sharpen your skills and test them on the field. With technology advancements, ERP systems will keep evolving. As an ERP Consultant, you need to be on your toes all the time to ride this wave of change and emerge as a successful ERP Consultant.