The principles of ERP projects are no different to other projects: establish the requirements, develop a plan, resource the plan, execute the plan, implement the changes, realise the beenfits. But the projects themselves offer several challenges for both the company and the implementation partner.
A clear understanding of roles and responsibilities is key to kicking off the project:
- Project sponsor (Company)
- Project manager (Company and implementer)
- Solution architect (Implementer)
- Implementation consultant(s)
- Implementation developer(s)
- Commercial manager (Compan and implementer)
- Leads for training, testing & data migration (Company)
- Change manager (Company) – if not the sponsor
Depending on project size and complexity certain people may fill more than one role (even several roles). However where the role is overlooked or not respected (ie subumed into other activities) you tend to find problems arise.
The criticality of the project sponsor role should speak for itself – the sponsor articulates the vision, the 'why we are doing this', provides the motivation, drive, support, etc. as the going gets tough.
When you look at the number of roles, the numbers of people, the interdependencies of tasks it becomes fairly obvious that a project manager is required. When the company does not take the PM role seriously the project is a likely shipwreck. When the implementer fails in project management the project will be a shipwreck – at least for the implementer. And good project managers are not in over supply – people who understand the complexities of a project, drive teams to meet timelines, anticipate issues and realign/ reschedule to ensure projects still achieve their objectives against timelines and budgets.
The solution architect is often overlooked. The SA must understand the the company, its objectives and its processes. The SA matches this against an understanding of the ERP solution and the implications of
any non standard implmentation effort. The SA works between the project managers, the developers and, potentially, the sponsor.
The consultants understand the processes and the ERP application. Working with the project manager they should seek to influence the company in how they use the ERP application. They will work hand in hand with the developers in any required developement work.
The commercial element of the project may vary during its life time as requirements change or emerge, as unexpected difficulties are uncovered. Different approaches my be taken – but it is in both parties interests that fair agreement is reached as early as possible. Neither the company nor the client want unexpected overruns or costs.
Training, testing and data maigration are critical activities. The project manager will identify these key activities. However the company needs to identify as early as possible who will take the lead on these activities. Data migration is often a source of major unexpected project delays. Training needs to tbe thought out – for instance require sufficient early training for the testers so that they are able to use the system to perform the testing.
And, finally, who will drive the changes through in the business post ERP implementation?