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Team Players: What to Consider When Assembling Your ERP Project Team

October 30, 2017
By Jeff Carr, Founder and CEO, Ultra Consultants

"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." --Henry Ford

We find Henry Ford’s insight quite relevant, especially considering today’s digital workforce as it relates to assembling the team that must plan, execute and work together when it comes to driving a successful ERP project.

So, when it comes to an ERP project team, how can “success take care of itself?”

Engagement, Alignment

We’ve seen first-hand that the most successful and seamless ERP implementations occur when the organization is fully engaged in the process and in full alignment with the ERP vendor and other resources.

Success follows when the team takes the time at the outset to determine who within the organization will participate, has a clear mandate from project sponsors, determines exact roles and responsibilities, and engages the appropriate resources to execute on solid plans.

What follows are typical roles and responsibilities that when staffed appropriately, lead to success.

Executive Sponsor

Executive (CEO) involvement in an ERP project is integral to ERP implementation success.

If there is not strong executive management support and sponsorship, the team members left holding the bag – including business process owners, the IT department and functional area managers– feel like they’re heading upstream into a long and difficult effort.

We see a direct correlation between the involvement of a CEO or executive sponsor, and the outcome of the ERP project – the more involved the CEO, the better the chance of ERP success.

Consider the various levels CEO/executive sponsorship:

  • Understanding: The executive sponsor thoroughly understands the business case for the project, with the key metrics for ERP success and uses this business case to sell the value of this project to the company.
  • Proper Resources: The executive sponsor gathers the resources from mamangement and allocates the proper level of resources to execute the project effectively.
  • Clear Vision: The sponsor communicates clearly to the rest of the organization the overall value, and the expectations for the project.
  • Involvement: The sponsor or CEO interacts in a hands-on manner with the ERP steering committee made up of project managers with clearly defined responsibilities.
  • Participation: The sponsor elicits participation from staff with different skill sets, such as those capable of implementing change, configuring the new business processes or training end users.
  • Planning: Developing and signing off on an integrated project plan with milestones is critical for the sponsor, so the team can manage dependencies between the various teams.
  • Decision Making: Finally, the sponsor involvement in formalized decision-making for the ERP initiative empowers team members to make decisions.

Project Champion

As a key team member from the project’s beginning to end, the Project Champion serves a critical role that brings the project message to the “troops.” In some cases, there could be Champions at each site, but in general it’s most effective to have one overall Champion. Typical duties of the Champion include:

  • Requirements Coordination –making sure all elements of the company are represented during the requirements process and specification.
  • Test Coordination – working closely with the PM to create a test plan and system tests, and select the test team and assist in coordination of testing.

Project Manager

The success of the implementation depends on highly experienced project managers with the skill and time to devote to the project. This might require a temporary re-allocation of some of the person’s existing responsibilities. Depending on the size and scope of project, time availability, and the skillset of the individual, project manager duties typically include:

  • Delivering the project on-time and within budget
  • Ensuring adherence to project scope
  • Maintaining the project plan
  • Signing off on deliverables
  • Reporting and escalating of issues
  • Communicating the project status
  • Ensuring risks are identified and treatment actions completed

Core Team - Business Process Owners

With tactical responsibility for the project, the core team members become the business process owners who ”live and breathe” the project daily. Each process owner represents a primary discipline within the company. They “own” the responsibility for their discipline throughout the project. General tasks include:

  • Centralizing, recording key project information
  • Functional-area leadership and input.
  • Focusing team efforts by each location, process and discipline
  • Communicating project progress to the users that will use the processes

Site Teams

The site team makes up the remainder of the full Project Team at each site or location, led by a Site Champion to help coordinate scheduling and ensure all site requirements are met.

Choosing the Winning Team

All told, structuring the ERP project team and giving it the proper time and resources it needs to carry out the project and associated business transformation is critical to project’s success.

This high-performing team requires the right people, with executive buy-in and support, and decision-making power to get the job done.

About Jeff Carr
Jeff Carr is CEO and founder of Ultra Consultants, an independent research and enterprise selection consultants firm serving the manufacturing and distribution industries. A sought-after expert and independent voice in enterprise system technology, Jeff’s organizations have helped over 1,200 manufacturing companies transform their business operations. Jeff’s results-focused career spans four decades serving manufacturers. He leads Ultra’s high-impact process improvement programs that leverage today’s technology. Jeff is a graduate of University of Illinois.

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