Functional Consultant vs. Technical Consultant

By: Victoria Sapsford

 

There’s a saying: the definition of an expert is someone who knows what not to do. And when it comes to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, having an expert help you with the implementation, management, and operations of the platform is a game-changer.

We’re all experts in our own fields and an ERP consultant is no different. While we previously wrote about the roles and responsibilities of ERP Consultants, today we’ll dissect that idea even further and breakdown the job of specialized consultants.

In most professional careers, there are specialists (like a dermatologist in medicine or a corporate lawyer in law). When it comes to consultants within the tech industry, it’s no different.

Now, all ERP consultants have high-level knowledge of ERPs down to its core; however, like in many fields, there are cases when a consultant will specialize in a particular area, leading to jobs for technical and functional specialists.

What they do and whether or not you need both will be explained below.

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Technical Consultant

Without stating the obvious, a technical admin deals with all technical aspects of the system. The actual job name often differs depending on the company, but they’re typically programmers or systems administrators. They are responsible for managing the software environment.

For example, they’ll install upgrades, execute required configurations for your system, and ensure all backend processes are running smoothly. If there’s a bug that’s affecting the program or maintenance needed on certain features, they’re your go-to person. Additionally, for any issues that occur within the system, they’re the ones to call to help troubleshoot and resolve the problem.

Their main tasks include:

Design and implement computer systems

Oversee the installation and configuration of new programs

Discover new new functionalities to enhance the platform

Build out customizations for the needs and requirements of an organization

Functional Consultant

While a technical admin is focused on all that occurs inside the software, a functional admin specializes more on the outside, in other words, the business aspect of consultancy. They share insight into business processes, financials as well as dabbling a bit on the technical side.

They handle the operations of your system, making sure it is working the way it’s supposed to as well as ensuring benchmarks are reached and preparing reports for stakeholders and executives. They more than likely have a strong background in accounting and sales in order to appropriately determine the requirements for the system as well as the business.

They are often tasked with the “blueprint” of the system, so programmers can build out the nitty-gritty configurations for the system. Due to their responsibilities around the business aspect, a functional admin must be able to:

Find solutions for potential gaps within the system

Analyze data to increase system efficiency and performance

Manage budget and cost

Keep up to date with new technologies

The differences between Functional and Technical

While each consultant is responsible for different tasks, they do complement each other.

When launching an ERP implementation, the functional administrators will be first on the scene to work alongside the client to determine a plan of action. They will learn about the wants, needs, and requirements of the business as well as fill in potential gaps that could occur.

Once this has been organized and the steps are in place, a technical administrator will come in and execute the plan. As mentioned above, they will take the “blueprint” and build on the system to best serve the needs of the client.

After establishing the basis for the system and ensuring the implementation and launch has gone smoothly, a functional consultant will more often than not move onto a different client and project, while the technical consultant will stay and be available for maintenance, updates, and any changes required by the client.

Does your business need a functional and technical consultant?

Each business is unique and there is no one-solution-fits-all when it comes to ERP implementation plans. Depending on the industry, company size, business processes in-place, budget, etc.

Some clients may need just a functional and technical consultant, while others need a full team of programmers and business analysts.

On the other hand, perhaps the needs of the organization are small and a consultant with knowledge in both functional and technical areas is sufficient.

Another matter to consider is the scope of the project at hand. Perhaps you’ve already implemented an ERP and are looking for minor customizations. A consultant may not be necessary if you already have in-house programmers or developers with knowledge of the system.

When it comes to overly-complicated plans, such as a full-blown ERP implementation with scripts, customization, and modules, having specialized consultants is highly recommended. Launching a new software without the expert help can often lead to massive bugs, slow-down business processes, and leave companies’ with decreased growth.

One thing is for sure, an experienced consultant will do wonders for your business. While many clients assume they can handle an ERP project on their own, no one knows the ins-and-outs of an ERP like a consultant and their expertise is invaluable to a company.

Hiring a consultant for your business

Before embarking on any type of technological change within your organization, the first step is to always sketch out the plan:

What are your business objectives and goals?

Do you have a strict budget in place?

How large or small is the scope of your project?

Once you have these questions answered, you can easily figure out whether or not you need to hire a consultant, specialized consultants, or a team of consultants.

At GURUS Solutions, our team of NetSuite consultants have years of experience in successful ERP implementations. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information on NetSuite ERP, NetSuite admins, or anything related to hiring a consultant for your project.

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About Victoria Sapsford

Victoria Sapsford is a self-described wordsmith, on a mission to discover the meaning of life through words. She’s also the current Marketing Specialist at GURUS Solutions, where she spends her days strategizing marketing campaigns and writing content about tech, ERP, and everything in between.

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