ERP implementation team membersYou’ve made the decision that a next-generation ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution is what your organisation needs to deliver the requisite insights, automated workflows and harmonised data from across your operations. You’ve researched, budgeted and consulted and your shortlist of ERP platforms has been compiled. The implementation of an all-embracing ERP solution is a time, resource and skill-consuming exercise; embarking on this complex journey will certainly test your internal systems and your processes during the months ahead. But, it’s important to remember that it’s the people who will really count during times of mission-critical upgrades. Getting your ERP implementation team structure, its roles and responsibilities defined and managed is vital. At stake is a smooth, efficient ERP deployment that will enhance, rather than hinder, your business strategy and deliver that coveted positive Return on Investment.
Who do you need on board to ensure ERP implementation success? How do you determine the roles they’ll play?First off, it’s imperative you define the qualities, experience, skill sets and personalities of your internal resource before you assemble your team. This is a team that will be centred on its accounting expertise, superior project management competencies, manpower availability and, not least, executive sponsorship and buy-in of the entire implementation strategy. Essential to the viability of your internal resource is the superlative communication skills that will give a clear voice to negotiations, conflicts and discussions when necessary. Discipline, too, will be indispensable when it comes to maintaining the focus of the task in hand, adhering strictly to the program and balancing an openness to change with an appropriate resistance to it when called for. Remember also, you’ll be assembling a team of stakeholders that, depending on the size of your organisation, may involve personnel who are already committed and consigned to their day job and will need to remain both flexible and supported throughout the implementation process. ERP implementation professionals worth their salt will always advise organisations to build their internal implementation team based on individuals’ ability rather than their job titles. Managers may manage their teams competently, but simultaneously managing the disparate elements of an ERP implementation requires adaptability, time and a multitasking finesse like no other. Of course, if you want to absolutely guarantee the success of your ERP implementation strategy, you’ll have appointed a trusted ERP implementation partner with proven expertise in your sector, of your business model and, naturally, your chosen ERP product. That said, building an internal team that has an intimate knowledge of your organisation and its systems will only serve to complement the work and progress of your development partner. Depending on the scale and complexity of your ERP implementation, the structure of your project team set up should include the people below. The fact is, whether you’re a multinational with a vast internal resource or a smaller organisation that’ll be allocating a skeleton team to an ERP implementation project, you must build an internal deployment team that will encourage and adhere to best practice.
The project lead: the steering committeeWorking alongside your ERP implementation consultant, the steering committee will comprise senior leaders and management who are responsible for defining and managing the key objectives for the implementation project. While CEOs, COOs, CFOs, VPs and directors will be taking centre stage for ERP roll-outs within multinational organisations, the same hierarchical approach for the high-level project leads should be applied to smaller scale businesses too.
The project management teamThe ERP implementation’s project management team, which may take the form of a single PM in a smaller enterprise, is likely to include VPs and directors from IT, finance, facilities and production divisions. A good mix of multifaceted personalities with the proven ability to focus on the implementation plan and identify essential changes to the specification will ensure the project schedule remains on course. This PM team will ultimately be responsible for delivering vital internal project management and communicating effectively with the ERP implementation partner.
The first line support team: the super-usersThe support team is there to keep the ERP solution running as it should and will be made up of line-oriented superusers. They’re there to work in conjunction with the ERP consultant to learn the ropes and train the trainers, conduct user acceptance testing, carry out various administrative tasks and provide first-line user assistance when needed.
The importance of understanding your business by an ERP implementation team
‘The only source of knowledge is experience’ – Albert EinsteinHe may not have been thinking about the rudiments of ERP implementation when he coined the phrase, but Albert Einstein certainly had foresight. The seamlessness of any ERP deployment rests on the understanding its implementation team has of its organisational processes, its industry and the capability of the ERP system it’s aiming to commission. Everyone involved in the project, from its lead and managers to its all-important support network, must possess a high-level appreciation of the organisation’s processes, notably its ERP implementation data conversion process. This will often result in an inordinate time spent exporting, changing, uploading and reconciling data; knowledge of your data, therefore, is key to the power you will wield throughout your ERP deployment. Similarly, the inside industry savvy of your ERP project team cannot be underestimated. Operational insight is critical to the configurations, specifications and processes you’ll need to map and execute in the context of your business model and ERP implementation parameters. As far as your knowledge of the capability of the ERP system itself extends, your first step should certainly be to get an experienced implementation consultant onside from the start. With a plethora of high-performance ERP platforms on offer, designating the solution that will effect the transformational change you seek is no mean feat. Proceed with a far-reaching business roll-out without consulting an implementation specialist first at your peril.