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Ken Jacobsen, The TM Group Inc.

What Goes into a Great ERP Implementation Team?


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a-strong-implementation-team-includes-representatives-from-many-differen_1725_40025321_0_14106488_500-300x200The addition of enterprise resource planning software to a business is not a task that can be taken lightly. The importance of ERP, and the fact that it has an effect on all areas of operation, means the entire process, from initial discussions with potential ERP partners to managing upgrades and updates, has to be a major priority. Often it is a good idea to encourage employee involvement.

One way that many businesses have driven success during and after the installation phase is through the creation and use of an ERP implementation team. This small group of employees helps serve as the bridge between executive decision-makers, employee users and the partner organization with which the company is working. Information is gathered and communicated to both sides, making the implementation process easier and, ultimately, crafting a system that will provide the most relevant benefits for a company's specific needs.

Also known as a project team, this group of staff members can wear many hats depending on company culture and the exact type of software being installed. Beyond acting as an efficient conduit to share information between the ERP partner's team and the company, the team also helps organize training and encourage employee buy-in, provides specific documentation to the partner group and fulfills many other tasks. While it's possible to get through an implementation without having a team in place, this approach leads to more stress, a less reliable flow of information and less optimal results overall.

Which staff members should be on the implementation team?
This question has to be answered on a specific level by each individual business, as priorities, resources and the type of ERP software selected all play a part in the makeup of the team. For example, a business that decided to use a cloud-deployed ERP system wouldn't require as much input from IT staff as it would for a traditional, on-premise install. There are some roles that have to be filled no matter the platform selected or the size or focus of a company, however.

A staff member well steeped in the intricacies of project management, regardless of his or her specific position in the company, is a must-have for a successful implementation. The complexity of an ERP implementation, with the many deadlines and requirements involved to get the system up and running on schedule, means a strong and experienced leader is needed. Having a project manager who can organize, plan, share information and delegate duties as appropriate frees up other members of the team to focus on areas where their own experiences and skills are best suited.

A representative of the company's corporate suite should also be involved. For smaller businesses, this could mean the direct participation of the owner or company president on the team. Having an executive involved is helpful because it provides a direct link to the top level decision-makers who ultimately sign off on a project. With an involved executive on the implementation team, it's easier to communicate and convey crucial information about the installation in a timely fashion. Executives also often bring a high level of knowledge to the table and can draw on past experiences to help develop the best possible system.

The participation of a few employees who work in departments that will heavily use ERP is also necessary for the team. These staff members provide the on-the-ground feedback and insight into daily operations that goes along with the high-level guidance offered by the project manager and the executive. Because front-line employees are often the ones most frequently using ERP, their participation and representation on the implementation team is crucial.

By The TM Group

One Response to “What Goes into a Great ERP Implementation Team?”

  1. The Chief Executive is THE custodian of the integrated view of the business and therefore it is VITAL that the Chief Executive is the sponsor for the project, assisted by an executive with a strong strategic understanding of the business

    see http://www.james-a-robertson-and-associates.com/ERPSuccess/ExecutiveCustodyVideo.aspx

    It is vital that the MOST knowledgeable personnel from each section of the business form part of the team in order to ensure that the REAL priorities and ways of doing things of the business are captured

    It is also vital that the business appoint a strategic facilitator with a deep understanding of business and systems to ensure that the REAL strategic requirements of the business are understood and incorporated in the solution and that the business is guided to ensure that the implementer delivers a high value outcome and does NOT cut corners

    See my discussion of the factors for success and the factors that cause failure at http://www.james-a-robertson-and-associates.com/ERPSuccess/TheRealIssuesinIBIS.aspx

    Warm regards

    James Robertson