ERP Project Team – without right people, ERP will fail before it starts!

Bulbul Ahmed

Strategic Transformation Leader | ERP, IT & Enterprise Solution Project Manager | Master Business Analyst | Management Consultant | Driving Innovation Through Process Optimization, Culture Development, and Automation Technology | 17 May, 2019 (Friday)View 223966

Find the right people from inside, don’t depend on external consultants

If you have good infrastructure and good processes but don’t have right people, then everything will be doomed. For a giant project like ERP implementation, if you don’t assign the right people, it will lead to a million-dollars-failure!

Hiring temporary people or vendor’s consultant to manage & execute the ERP project is not a wise decision. Because those people will never be dedicated enough to go into the details of your business. Moreover, once the project is finished, they walk away with all the software knowledge!

Therefore, you need to look at your internal people and identify the potential ones with the required skills. There’re always some smart people in every organization. At a very peculiar situation, if you don’t find enough good people inside, even then don’t hire external team of consultants. Hire permanent employees with right skills who will work from internally!

Ideally the structure of the ERP Project Team should be just like the figure on top.

Involve the Top Management in the Project Team

ERP project involves all people from all functions. Therefore, the highest authority in the organization must be on the top of the project team. It could be Managing Director, CEO or anybody who has the authority over all people. They are considered as Project Sponsors.

However, the Project Sponsors will not be able to spend enough time on ERP project implementation. There should be another group of people from Top Management who will take the responsibility to ensure the project is running on-track. This group is known as the Steering Committee or Project Champions. Steering committee will help the Core Team by providing all resources required. They will choose the right people to assign to the Core Team.

Steering Committee will also take responsibility to remove all barriers that are blocking the success of ERP. They will help the Project Manager not only to implement the ERP solution but also to implement the Change Management strategies. If the project fails, mainly the Steering Committee will be responsible!

The related functional department/section heads should be part of the Steering Committee.

Get the best ERP Project Manager

This person plays the most important part to lead the ERP to success. If you chose an external consultant or temporary person for this role, then you are none but a fool! You should look at your organization and find someone who

  • is a successful project manager (managed ERP or non-ERP projects successfully)
  • has technology knowledge
  • has management skills
  • capable to communicate and lead people

If you don’t find such person internally, then you should recruit someone as permanent employee having the above particulars.

Project Manager is responsible to plan and control the day-to-day aspects of the project. He will set the responsibilities of each people in the project team. He will make final decisions how the business should be integrated with technology solution. The project manager will report the status of the project to the Steering Committee.

Project Manager is also responsible to develop and execute the change management strategies that are necessary to implement new process and new technologies in the organization.

Form the Core Team

As stated in the figure at the top, along with the Project Manager, there are 3 other groups/persons that forms the Core Team.

ERP Vendor’s Project Manager is the consultant assigned by the software vendor to run the project from their side. However, this person should not take over the project’s control. He should only jump when it is necessary to help the internal ERP Project Manager. If the external person dominates over the internal one, then it is just a common recipe of failure!

Business Analysts are the people from functional departments who knows the industry best practices and standard processes. They are capable to understand the software capabilities, architecture and structure of information flow within the software.

Business Analysts will be responsible to analyze the business process, extract requirements and translate into software blueprint design. They are also responsible for testing and training. The performance of the ERP solution will depend on how skillful the Business Analysts are.

If you don’t find such ready-made Business Analysts internally, then select those people who can quickly learn and develop their skills. These people should be dedicated to the project for full time. They will report to the Project Manager.

When the project is over, these people will have newly acquired skill sets which make them capable to lead functional departments/sections. They are the future leaders of the company.

Software Developers are good to have in the team if the ERP solution is customizable by the client. The developers can learn the technical language and customize the software as per business requirement. This will drastically reduce the consultancy cost. Note that the consultancy cost covers 60-70% of the total ERP cost. The software developers should report to the Project Manager, not to the IT Manager.

Enlist the Power Users and End Users

Process Owners or Power users are the people who handles the business processes. They may not be the department heads, but they are the main responsible to execute the daily business functions.

Enlist them as part of the project. When they see their names in the list, they will feel that it is their project which is a great deal for the success. You don’t need to get acceptance from all users, you just need from the Process Owners.

Process Owners don’t need to provide a lot of time for the project. They will be involved mainly in the design phase when the business requirements to be identified and configured in the system. They are responsible to receive training from Business Analysts and provide the same training to the End Users.

Ensure IT Technical side is strong

Lastly the IT infrastructure is a big part of ERP solution. It includes Hardware, Software and Network. All the servers, computers, printers, barcode scanners, PDAs, RFIDs, supporting applications, database, network devices must be ensured to work properly. If not, it could ruin the project. Therefore, get the IT Manger and IT support team on board with the Project Team.

Don’t shrink the Project Team

All the 10 groups and persons mentioned above are the must-haves for any ERP implementation project. If missing any of them, then you are going to the road of failure.

There could be some more teams such as Site Representatives (in case of multi-site organization) and Subject Matter Experts for short time if necessary.

Also don’t assign too many people. Few people with right skills is better than a lot of people lacking required skills.


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