The benefits of implementing an ERP system are abundantly clear. ERP software helps businesses better manage and derive value from their data, streamline and standardize processes, and even allows some core business functions to be automated, giving employees time to focus on tasks which require more attention. With the market expected to be worth $41.69 billion by 2021, many companies are adopting an ERP system at a fast pace. It would seem that those that don’t adopt, will soon be left behind.
The value of these systems to manufacturers is massive, and the sector has more buyers and users of ERP than any other industry. However, ERP systems, if not done properly, can be difficult and time-consuming to integrate.
It can also be challenging to implement ERP without major disruption to business-as-usual operations; it’s a bit like trying to change an airplane engine while still in the air. This is why having the right team to implement and manage this process is critical. Here’s how to build the perfect implementation team for your project:
Key Players You Need on Your Team
No. 1 - Executive sponsor
You may have heard the Gartner statistic floating around that ERP implementations have a 50-75 percent failure rate. While this shouldn’t scare businesses, it is important that executives are on board and involved in the project from the start.
Executives need to set the tone for the vision and end-goals of the ERP project, as well as being engaged throughout. They need to develop realistic scope and expectations, communicate this across the company, and be accountable for the success of the project
No. 2 - Implementation partner
When implementing an ERP solution, the consulting partner you select is just as important as the software itself—if not more so. Remember, your ERP is only as good as the people who work with it. It’s a big, transformational project and will require consistent consulting. A good implementation partner will have a strong track record of success, and the ability to see the project through to the end and beyond.
Although you’ll need someone with technical and functional knowledge, you also want someone who has business acumen and, in particular, a deep understanding of your business and possible pain points.
No. 3 - Project manager
Although a project manager should be technologically competent, an ERP project is a collaborative and dynamic endeavour. Therefore, it’s really important to employ someone who also has experience with problem-solving, and communicating with departments and motivating team members.
Key responsibilities of a project manager are things like monitoring the cost and planning the resources needed to deploy the project (as well as delivering it on time). They’ll need to be available to sign off requirements, report on project process and continue motivating the core team on resolving any issues that arise.
No. 4 - Core team
Your core team members are the ones who live and breathe the project on a daily basis. Assign each member a specific area of ownership and allow people to really ‘own’ their individual responsibilities within the project. Core team members should have good knowledge of business processes in their domain, coordinate with the project manager and help with testing the system, as well as training end-users.
Guiding Principles for a Successful ERP Implementation
No. 1 - Choose people for competency and ability, not job title or status
It’s tempting to choose people who are already existing team members on their hierarchical role in the company but this is a mistake. Managerial level employees aren’t necessarily more knowledgeable, and the project could take them away from their usual tasks. Instead, choose experienced, savvy employees from across the company or hire externally someone who has had experience with this in the past; they’re more likely to be dedicated to the project and new responsibilities can act as a motivator.
No. 2 - Communicate and manage change effectively
It’s really important for those implementing the ERP system to communicate a clear vision, plan and timescale across the company. This is often overlooked, which can cause huge problems with adoption by end-users after implementation. Remember that those not involved in the management of the ERP are the ones who will be using it on a daily basis, so try and involve them in the implementation as much as possible; find out their pain points and help them understand how the system will help solve them. Make sure you manage change effectively when rolling out the software, and give proper training to all employees.
No. 3 - Empower your implementation team and let them do their best work
Executive involvement and strong project management are essential for a successful ERP implementation. However, businesses should be careful not to micro-manage, and instead allow their team the freedom to work on the project and use their own individual expertise to bring something new to the table. And of course, when implemented, your new ERP system will empower the whole team and give them the tools they need to do their best work.
Kevin Ovalle is Vice President of Anderson Frank.