Business Process Consulting – Managing the Vendor

Managing the VendorAs the voice of the project, the Business Process Consultant should stand between the Vendor and Client.  Vendors usually have a very specific way they like to manage their clients which is like lemmings that will blindly follow their lead.

Put simply: The Business Process Consultant should manage the Vendor instead of the Vendor managing the client.

The Vendors’ time line usually assumes that the Client does not have the in-house expertise to manage an implementation nor any single point of contact for answers.  This is where the Business Process Consultant becomes the Clients’ secret weapon.

In an average Systems Implementation Proposal it states that the Vendors’ “Project Management Team” and “Consultants” will spend some number of hours ironing out the details of the “actual” work to be done to implement the system.  Since the Vendor Proposal was written by the Sales Department, days of time are added so that the Vendor can “gain an understanding of the Client’s needs” and rack up as many extra hours as possible.

If the Business Process Review has been done properly, the Business Process Consultant short-circuits this incredible waste of time by the Vendor.  We do not need the Vendor to gain an understanding of our environment nor do we need them perform yet another review of our operations.  We need the Vendor to immediately get to work and provide best practice suggestions AFTER reviewing our findings.

Here is a real world example of the tangible benefit of Managing the Vendor:  I was the Business Process and Systems Implementation Consultant to a large non-profit that was changing over its’ Financial Reporting System which included the General Ledger, Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable, as well as a number of other modules.  I had spent a significant amount of time performing the Business Process Review during which I was responsible for the creation of the new Chart of Accounts for the General Ledger and documenting the dozens of required reports. (Note:  Although my focus is as a Technology Consultant, I am also licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of New York.  My ability to reorganize the Chart of Accounts was just one of the many skills I brought to this Project.)

On the first day of work with the selected Vendor, the Vendor Consultant opened the meeting by stating it would take a number of weeks to review our current system and gain an understanding our reporting needs.  The Vendor Consultant stated he might start programming the new General Ledger in about a month and that within three months it might be ready for testing.

Imagine the expression on the face of the Vendor Consultant when I handed him a fully vetted Chart of Accounts for the General Ledger, the Accounts Receivable, the Accounts Payable, a full list ready for import of all customers (technically donors and pledges) and another list ready for import of suppliers and the layouts for all of the required reports.  After some preliminary discussions regarding best practices and required setup information for the Software, the Consultant started installation and configuration that afternoon.

This saved thousands of dollars in unnecessary duplication of Vendor consulting time with work that had already been done as part of the Business Process Review.  More notable, it enabled me to put up a Full General Ledger with Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable in 45 Days.  Yes, you read that correctly:  From “Day One” to the printing of the first check in the NEW system in only 45 days – instead of the six months to a year that it usually takes “Vendor Managed” General Ledger Projects to complete.

As demonstrated, the use of a Business Process Consultant to manage the System Implementation and the Vendor will lead to significant cost savings and a shorter delivery time.

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