The ERP Selection Process: Some Assembly Required

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October 19, 2021By Jim Reilly

Building a Power Team:

The first major step in the journey toward adopting a new ERP system for your organization is assembling an effective project team. A well-appointed team can help you not only select the best possible ERP system suited to meet your organization’s needs but also mitigate employee resistance and secure leadership buy-in.

Assembling an all-star team for your ERP project is critical to your implementation success, so do not take these decisions lightly.

Project Team Members:

What individual characteristics make a successful project team? The first two: diversity and depth of knowledge. This team should include individuals from every facet of the business that will be affected by the new system. Each individual needs to bring in-depth knowledge of the current system and business processes along with a vision of how the new system can best impact their day-to-day. Equally important, these individual stakeholders should have a thorough understanding of their business areas and how those areas serve the organization’s strategic initiative. This knowledge will enable them to speak to the specific needs and nuances of their department but keep them from singularly focusing on how the ERP system will fit their department needs only. Influence and communication are two other high-commodity characteristics among each project team member. These employees’ opinions should matter in their respective areas, and they need to communicate well with others. Involving these individuals from the start will ensure you have inherent senior-level buy-in throughout the process and keep employee resistance at bay.

Executive Sponsor:

Any large-scale project with the impact of an ERP implementation requires an executive sponsor. This individual should report directly to the CEO and come from a vantage point that covers all affected areas of the organization. Ideally, the sponsor will be familiar with the current system(s) and have experience in the ERP system selection process. The sponsor should oversee building the business case for the new or upgraded system and should present the benefits of the change to key stakeholders. As an integrated participant in the selection process, the sponsor will add high-profile support to the project and can help diffuse any interdepartmental conflicts that may arise.

Project Manager:

Once your project team has been assembled and your sponsor has been identified, the final step is to appoint a dedicated project manager to oversee the comprehensive ERP selection process and coordinate all the moving pieces along the way. Strong project management will help keep your selection process on time and on budget. To ensure consistency, the project manager’s tenure should last throughout the selection and negotiation process and throughout the initial implementation phase.

Assembling an all-star team for your ERP project is critical to your long-term success and by no means an easy task. Finding the right individuals with the right characteristics suited to the task will help you secure the expertise and support of your organization’s best and brightest. And ultimately, this team will be the key to running a well-informed ERP selection process and a drama-free implementation.

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