Preparing for the ERP implementation: Is your ERP implementation team in place?

Preparing for the ERP implementation: Is your ERP implementation team in place?

If you have purchased a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you may be gearing up for implementation.

This can be a testing time for a business as a system is upgraded or even replaced by another, but with careful planning the process can run smoothly. Successful implementations are grounded in effective collaboration between the technology provider and customer, and establishing a dedicated implementation team will help.

For their part, the technology provider should be doing a systematic handover from their sales team to their design and implementation teams to ensure expectations are clearly understood. They should be assigning a project sponsor and a project manager for the project.

The technology provider will contribute their technical knowledge and experience of best practice, but no one knows the business better than its own management team. Rather than being a passive partner, it is vital that you engage fully in the process so that you can take on more responsibility for and understanding of the new solution as the go-live approaches.

The implementation team needs to be carefully structured and work closely with the software provider. The members of the team may be the same people who made the initial purchasing decision, but there could be additional members called upon for their particular area of knowledge within the business.

The implementation team ideally comprises the project sponsor, a project manager, the IT infrastructure manager and relevant team members.

Cogs representing ERP implementation team

In detail, the Project Sponsor should be a senior manager who can create an environment in which the project succeeds, from conception to sign-off. He or she knows their way around the organisation and understands the politics. They can prepare an organisation for change. They invest the project manager with the necessary authority to get things done but are also ready to make tough decisions.

The Project Manager will be far more than just a coordinator or communicator; they must be extensively involved day to day in the project. It is the project manager’s role to work with the technology partner’s project manager to understand what effort and resources are required on the business side at each stage, to ensure a joint plan of action. The plan must then be executed and the project manager reports and monitors progress to keep the project on track and maintains control of costs, quality and timescales.

As at the evaluation stage, there needs to be someone at the implementation stage who understands the current infrastructure and how the different components interact. This would ideally be the IT Infrastructure Manager. By completing pre-install questions and being present at the go-live day, the technology partner will be able to train the IT team in the needs of the core software and its client software installation process, as required. This means that future installations can be completed by internal staff, without relying on the technology partner.

At the implementation stage it becomes essential that relevant Team Members are involved. This is not simply to encourage user adoption. Opening up membership of the team beyond the finance department will help to extend the benefits of the solution across the business. Unless super-user training and first-line technical support post implementation are outsourced to the technology provider, key team members, having first been trained themselves, will carry out this training. Therefore, it’s essential that the key team members understand fully what the system offers.