Running a large enterprise requires managing a lot of moving parts and people, which is why finding the right ERP analyst is essential.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) analysts implement ERP systems, which provide a one-stop, 360-degree view of a large enterprise, including core business processes such as design, material, production, delivery, logistics, human resources and finance.
ERP systems can smooth information flow, ensure accuracy, cut down on delays and speed deliveries to customers. Gone is the familiar refrain about checking with a slew of departments where an order might be mired. When implemented properly, ERP systems make that available in a keystroke.
As you might imagine, maximizing these systems requires hiring ERP analysts who have both coding expertise and project management skills. Finding the right people can be challenging. We spoke to Andrea Sprengel Seip, a senior SAP analyst and published expert on ERP systems implementation. Seip suggests asking these 10 questions when interviewing ERP analysts.
1. “Tell me about your programming skills. In particular, how familiar are you with ABAP?”
You want someone who will roll up his sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty of the code. If yours is an Oracle environment, your ideal candidate should be familiar with Oracle Enterprise One, the Oracle programming language. If your installation uses SAP, the candidate should know Advanced Business Application Processing (ABAP). Otherwise, candidates need to be familiar with whatever programming language your ERP systems uses.
2. “What kinds of ERP systems have you worked with?”
Some organizations have deployed a hybrid comprised of multiple ERP solutions, while others may have created their own using open-systems software. Make sure your candidate is familiar with the system (or systems) you use or plan to use.
3. “Tell me about the most difficult interface challenge you faced and how you solved it.”
Interfaces are at the heart of what ERP systems do. After implementation, you’ll want all the links in an ERP system to work seamlessly and the code to facilitate future changes and upgrades.
4. “What functional areas do you know best, and how have you built bridges from there to other parts of the enterprise?”
If the candidate has only worked on financial systems, for example, how did she handle integrating payroll automation with HR? You might also invite the candidate to discuss a few examples of flaws or bugs that she later resolved.
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5. “How have you worked with the different functional areas to keep projects moving forward?”
Any ERP implementation calls departmental autonomy into question. So implementing ERP systems requires skills in both project management and persuasion. The best ERP analysts are both reassuring and assertive.
6. “Tell me about your experience with configuration management.”
Configuration management is a key element of ERP systems, particularly at the implementation stage. Knowledgeable ERP experts know to begin with a comprehensive business process master list (BPML), the blueprint for later stages of the implementation.
7. “Tell me about your experience with developing data dictionaries.”
A data dictionary documents the internal structure of the ERP database in its various iterations. Once an ERP system goes live, the data dictionary guides users, so developing a good one is essential.
8. “Have you developed custom transaction software?”
Tell me about this.” Well-designed and well-implemented ERP systems help management keep track of the tiniest pieces of inventory. Custom transaction software enables employees to make real-time inventory changes. While this concept seems geared toward manufacturing, it’s applicable to any business that offers something for sale. For instance, it would also be appropriate for a retail store, food-service operation or a government facility.
9. “How can an ERP analyst improve the speed of an ERP implementation?”
Seip strongly recommends utilizing the SAP ASAP Methodology for SAP systems. Your ideal candidate should be familiar with ASAP or industry best-practice information published continuously by other leading ERP software providers.
10. “Tell me about your experience with ERP training programs.”
A good training program helps employees become expert users of their company’s new ERP systems. Your ideal candidate for an ERP specialist job will have solid experience at getting everyone up to speed easily.