Enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation isn’t always successful, but there are ways of improving the outcome. Step one to making the process smoother is planning. Step two is creating a winning project team.
All teams need a primary leader; for ERP implementation, this role is handle by the executive sponsor. A strong executive with significant influence is required. This leader needs to be an active tem member thorough out the project, someone who can be a cheerleader at times but is also willing to ask tough questions when required. A few key responsibilities are as follows:
- Budget allocation
- Support project politically
- Make major project decisions
- Provide resources for the project
Project management is 90 percent communication. It is critical to communicate the reasons and importance for the implementation project, as well as the effort required and the progress and benefits. Most ERP implementations fail because of poor communication. Unfortunately, companies often make the mistake of choosing someone they feel is the smartest person in their organization. While intelligence is important, the project manager must be able to communicate effectively to the staff, the appropriate stakeholders, and the C-level suite.
Essentially, the project manager is the coach of the implementation team and his or her key role is to be the central communicator and manager of the project. Beyond good communications skills, an effective project manager also knows how to get the most productivity out of the team, leverage their talents and expertise, understand the risks before they happen, develop a comprehensive and systemic plan of all parts of the ERP implementation, and execute that plan given the constraints. A few key responsibilities are as follows:
- Progress reports – deliverables being completed on time and within budgeted costs
- Provide risk assessment
- Regular meetings with the executive sponsor, project team members and company
Project Team Members
Just as teamwork matters on the soccer field, it matters when it comes to ERP implementation. Team members throughout varying levels of the business will need to work together if an ERP project is to be successful, and that is easier said than done. The core team needs to be prepared for employee resistance in a positive, effective way.
Traits of a good team member:
- Willing to share information
- Information seeker
Traits of a bad team member:
- Recognition seeker
- Topic jumper
The importance of a winning team for an ERP implementation can best be summed up by a famous quote from Vince Lombardi: “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing!” That statement rings all too true for an ERP implementation where there are frequently careers on the line, significant resources and capital investments, and the future technological direction of the organization hangs in the balance. Indeed, building a winning team won’t necessarily assure success 100 percent of the time; however without it, failure is virtually guaranteed.