ERP decisions and implementations are tough. With projects taking months to complete and costing tens of thousands of dollars or more, it’s important to get what you want and lay the groundwork for success.
Following our last blogs exploring the benefits of the cloud, the reasons companies of all sizes are taking on ERP projects(rather than just the biggest entities), the customizability of modern ERP, and the scalability of the cloud, we would today like to discuss the benefits and basics of building a project team.
What is an ERP Project Team?
Though many things go into an ERP implementation, one of the most overlooked factors of a success is how well the team behind the decision works. Not only does an ERP team help to steer the decision process, they play a critical role in meeting deadlines, maintaining morale, and ensuring that resources are well-used.
Broader ERP Usage Requires Broader, More Diverse Teams
Understandably, as ERP has grown in scope over the past few years, this team is likely bigger and more diverse than the teams formerly in charge of the decisions. Input and guidance needs to come from more than just the finance and IT departments so as not to create disdain for the project, low confidence in the product, or poor understanding of the processes.
Start with the User Communities
From the traditional and aforementioned IT and finance teams to the people in charge of products or projects, it pays to incorporate representatives from a variety of departments.
Therefore, your project team should have adequate representation from all areas of the business – engineering, materials, production, customer service—and in many cases sales and marketing.
Bring in Visionaries and Leadership
While user input and department representation is vital, you still need leadership and vision. The project will also need an executive sponsor to provide vision, motivation, and conflict resolution (when the team doesn’t have the authority to break a stalemate or resource contention issue). This part-time job is vital to a successful project, and goes a long way in keeping morale high and projects on path.
Specific tasks will be completed by sub-teams in the individual departments under the watchful eye of task team leaders who report to the project team.
When Should You Involve Team Leaders?
The thing with an ERP project is this: It starts long before you consider software. Department representatives should be there to steer you to a solution, finding out current concerns with software and providing guidance on decisions. Does your warehouse manager want increased mobility? Does your purchasing manager want specific functionality? This needs to be out in the open.
Users must be involved right from the start and should lead the effort in selecting the system and planning/carrying out the implementation. Understandably, these people should be phased in, something we will explain later in the article.
How to Build and Manage an ERP Team
So now that you know who to involve, how can you build this team?
Start with the Fundamentals
The Dream Team wasn’t born to be the Dream Team, it took years to refine skills. According to TechTarget, the first people to involve in the team are the people who understand how the business works and why an ERP project can help.
This means that your early team members should have a mix of technical and business knowledge, participants should be able to collaborate, facilitate, negotiate and recognize risk.
Don’t Go Overboard adding people in the Early Stages
“A camel is a horse designed by committee.” The early team should involve an agile and understanding group of individuals who can get everything set up for success. While sales can be incorporated later, the leadership doesn’t need to be the early decision maker.
People at this stage should complement the rest of the team, according to the TechTarget article, noting,
“The solutions architect should start with the organization’s requirements and use those as the basis for the search. Then, they can create a well-defined set of measurable statements, a project charter that outlines why the result is necessary, what requirements need to be satisfied and how this will be managed.
Begin Incorporating New Project Roles As Needed
Once the foundation has been laid, it’s time to build out the other internal roles of the ERP project team. These are the people who refine the project, delivering subject matter expertise, project management skills, and executive guidance as the project starts rolling.
Make Sure Users Aren’t Being Dragged into a Decision
At some point, you are going to want to bring in anyone the product touches. These are the kind of people who may introduce dealbreakers, but who usually don’t have enough understanding of a project to lead it. HR and training, legal teams, and users who aren’t going to be in the weeds every day play a vital role, and should be phased in as you approach the final decision.
Get Ready to Meet Your External Team
With the key players in place, now you have the skills and understanding to bring in external resources. This is because now that you have a clear vision and understanding, you won’t be spending boatloads of money on services that resulted from a lack of vision or oversight.
Cost overruns in ERP programs are normally rooted in paying the systems integrators much more than what was originally planned. These cost overruns often occur without penalty to the systems integrator because the contract specifically spells out exceptions for which extra spending was justified.
Get to Know Acumatica and MIBAR
If you’re like most companies, the last time you looked at ERP was likely six to ten years ago. Today’s cloud based options are built to be more secure, reliable, and technologically advanced than their legacy counterparts, empowering business leaders to connect and thrive.
As a leading implementation partner who serves a variety of ERP options, one of our favorites is Acumatica, a solution built for the growing business. Incredibly flexible and priced for growth, Acumatica can handle the needs of your business today and in the future. Learn more about this solution, our success delivering it for companies, and contact us for a free consultation.