There are many reasons why organisations make the decision to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. It could be that the goal is to enhance the experience for customers or streamline productivity or reduce costs. With an ERP system, many disparate software. Spreadsheets and other paper-based processes can be eliminated, replaced instead by a centralised set of business operation management tools and a unified database that contains information from across the business, accessible to all.
But since ERP software touches so many facets of a business, it can be challenging to implement one. An implementation will often take several months, or even longer for larger, more complex businesses. Where mistakes occur in the planning or implementation phases, such as failure to clearly define requirements or goals, further delays can be encountered. To ensure an ERP implementation goes as smoothly as possible, a solid implementation team is critical. Here are some things you should know before you begin.
ERP Implementation Team Defined
Big projects require a team that is skilled and dedicated, and this applies to implementing a new ERP system. Your ERP implementation plan should define a team of key members, with representatives of different areas of the organisation at various levels of authority. This means there should be project managers, executives, end users who the implementation affects, experts from different business facets and IT staff with the skills to customise or implement the new system.
Each of these people will provide important insights into the way people work, sponsorship and general practical support.
The Role of the ERP Implementation Team
As a unit, the ERP implementation team takes responsibility for following best practices throughout the implementation, ensuring the success of the project to get the ERP solution operating as required. The team takes centre stage from the outset of the project, helping identify a solution that matches the goals of the organisation and provides the capabilities and tools needed. The team maps out these requirements for the ERP system, assigning key milestones and determining precisely how specific business processes will be supported, as well as testing the new system before it is launched.
The full team must be assembled at the very beginning of the project. This way, all stakeholders will have the opportunity to make themselves heard and play a role in facilitating successful implementation at every stage.
The Key Members and Roles Within the ERP Implementation Team
It is essential to include the most appropriate people in the ERP implementation team in order for the project to succeed. Each team member plays a different role with different responsibilities, and this should revolve around their skills and expertise as well as their availability to devote time to the project. There should be a clear definition of these responsibilities to ensure everyone knows exactly what they are doing and avoid gaps in responsibilities from occurring.
The Project Manager
An ERP implementation requires a point person – someone who ensures timelines are adhered to and that the project does not exceed its planned scope. This is the role of the project manager, who must work to keep the project on track and communicate with the executive sponsor and other team members about progress and challenges that arise.
There are several duties for the project manager to undertake. They must take point in identifying several ERP vendors and arranging demos for the team, as well as organising the eventual evaluation. They also map out the steps of implementation, including coordinating the system to business processes and carrying out tests. At every stage, the project manager keeps the project plan updated and keeps the executive sponsor connected to the team members.
The Executive Sponsor
ERP implementation can impact virtually every arm of the organisation, so there needs to be someone at the very top to champion and drive the implementation strategy. This is the executive sponsor, and they must assess risks and create action plans, frequently operating as cheerleaders for the company and as the project’s internal face. Throughout implementation, the executive sponsor takes updates from the project manager and maintains communication with core team members.
Financial decisions about the projects are typically made by the executive sponsor. This is informed by input from the implementation team as well as a focus on aligning with the customer’s business needs. Decisions may include things like increasing the project budget, identifying the processes to be automated and deciding whether personnel need to be added or removed.
Core Cross-functional Team Members
A good team must have technical experts from various departments of the business, such as IT, finance and manufacturing (if applicable). These team members must assist in directing software configuration and design to support key business processes, and also highlight opportunities to leverage the new system’s capabilities to bring about improvements. They must educate themselves in some of the technical aspects of the ERP to gain an understanding of what it can do for certain business needs and technical issues.
If you do not use the services team from the ERP vendor, or a third-party partner, to lead the implementation, an IT team representative will speak for the internal IT team that gets the system live. This team will be pivotal for configuring the software to the business needs, whether through an on-premises solution or a cloud-based ERP. The IT team will also have to install and maintain the hardware and software if an on-premises solution is selected.
You can read more about the differences between cloud-ERP and on-premise ERP in the article Cloud ERP vs On-Premise ERP Comparison.
These are sometimes referred to as super users. They are in the ERP implementation team to raise concerns from their departments about the setup of the system. They often encourage adoption within their departments, giving answers to non-technical questions about how the system will work once it goes live.
End users need leadership skills to be champions of the project, and their technical skills must be pretty good. They need to be effective communicators to ensure departmental concerns are raised and also to help other users comprehend the new system.
One of the best things about ERP systems is their ability to analyse and report on different types of business data. An ERP implementation team often includes a report writer to customise the platform’s reports to reflect the relevant business needs. This individual must have an in-depth knowledge of the reporting tools of the ERP system as well as the data it stores.
The report writer is responsible for analysing the existing reporting processes of the organisation and developing ways to use the new solution to make improvements. Their involvement may continue after the system goes live to modify reports and create new ones.
Companies often work with an implementation partner to help with the technical work in deploying a new system. They may also take on some responsibilities within the ERP implementation team. For example, an implementation partner might serve as a project manager and help coordinate technical aspects of customising and installing the system.
Generally, implementation partners do not cover all roles in the implementation team. But they can spearhead the work, ensuring adherence to timeline and maximum efficiency throughout the challenging technical work, bringing specialist expertise to the table.
Summary: Building the Perfect ERP Implementation Team
To recap, here are 5 things you need to think about to ensure success when building your ERP implementation team:
1. Obtain executive sponsorship for a top-level champion to rally the entire organisation behind the implementation.
2. Include cross-functional users and end users throughout the project to ensure concerns from all departments are addressed swiftly.
3. Select team members with time to devote to the implementation. The project can take up a lot of the team members’ time, so they may need to delegate other duties temporarily.
4. Choose team members who have the right skill sets rather than their seniority. If a more junior employee possesses the right capabilities, they make a more meaningful contribution than a more senior employee who lacks those skills.
5. Define ERP implementation roles clearly and plainly from the outset. This information is crucial to choosing the right team members from your employees.
You will find more useful information about ERP implementation in the article ERP Implementation – A Step by Step Guide.
Why choose Eventura as your ERP implementation partner?
Eventura has been providing robust business solutions to countless organizations for over two decades. We are ERP experts and can identify all of your business needs, and deliver a comprehensive ERP solution that works for you.
As Sage 200 Partners and NetSuite Solution Providers, we can help you identify which solution will fit your business needs the best. Our expert team of business analysts, developers, consultants, technicians and support staff can guide you through your entire project, from initial scoping through to implementation and on-going support.
We’re also managed IT service providers meaning we can help you identify your entire IT infrastructure requirements from day one. If you would like to speak to one of our ERP experts, you can request a free call back here.