Tips on how to choose your ERP implementation team

These tips from Stephen Whitehouse, WinMan ERP Software…

Any successful ERP implementation is dependent on the qualities and experience of the team and how the project is managed. The team chosen needs to have the right mix of personalities, experience, technical skills and knowledge of internal processes if the ERP project is to be a success. But the right choice is not always the most obvious one. At the start of the ERP project, you need to think about whom to have in your implementations team and whether you need to recruit for the project.

By choosing from existing employees you will have the comfort of knowing the skillset of the people involved. They will have an intimate knowledge of the organisations current systems and processes. But they can also be a barrier to change if they do not buy-in to the new system.

ERP implementations are a time-consuming process with hours of intensive work. For internal staff team members, a balance between current job roles and ERP project requirements must be created to keep both the project and daily operations productive. The ERP provider or supplier should assist and provide advice on how the new ERP system can support the business.

Job titles vs ability

Whether you assemble your team internally, outsource the project to a third party or have a mixture of both, you should choose project members by their ability and not job titles. Senior managers may know the business inside out, but they are often too busy with their day jobs to commit the amount of time required for an ERP project.

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Another option is to look at individual abilities and empower employees who are already familiar with the company processes and select one dedicated project manager. This will not only ensure the project goes smoothly, it will also develop the skills of the individual.

Good communication skills

Any ERP implementation involves both stakeholders and implementation staff; it could be internal employees, external consultants, project managers or consultants from your ERP provider. So it is imperative that every member of the team communicates in a clear and concise manner.

The team members must be comfortable communicating with all levels and different stakeholders. They must not be shy about bringing up potentially conflicting situations. This may include requesting solutions from the ERP provider or requesting management to rethink certain configurations or processes. So bear in mind that the conversations and negotiations involved in any ERP implementation can be complex and demanding.

Be disciplined

An ERP Project Manager needs to be a multifaceted person, with the ability to focus on many complex things at the same time and be disciplined. One needs to be disciplined enough to focus on following the implementation plan while remaining open to change requests or process improvement suggestions.

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All ERP implementations will involve some changes to the specification as the project go on because it is difficult to predict or plan for every eventuality before the implementation begins as there are always unknown factors.

That does not mean all changes to the plan should be implemented, the project manager needs to be able to identify the most important and beneficial specification changes, and is disciplined enough to resist other or too many changes that could derail the project.

Industry and processes knowledge

The team leader can be an external consultant or seconded from your in-house team. But whoever they are, they must be able to encourage best practice within the deployment team, working with stakeholders to ensure key requirements are met and handle any change requests that occur as the deployment evolves.

It is imperative the project lead has a high-level understanding of the business, industry and the ERP system, otherwise is it not enough to ensure smooth delivery. They must also have experience of business processes at an operational level if the ERP system deployment is to be successful.

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