In this special blog series, Navigating the ERP System Selection Process, we’ll review the steps manufacturers should be taking to select the right ERP vendor and set themselves up for success throughout implementation. Over the next few weeks, you’ll learn how to define and manage your ERP expectations, strategy and budget while selecting an ERP partner who is right for your business.

Business-Team-Meeting1The very first step in the long journey toward adopting a new ERP system for your organization is putting together an effective team. By choosing these individuals wisely, your organization can ensure you’ve made a well-informed decision when selecting your next ERP system while mitigating employee resistance and bolstering leadership buy-in along the way.

In this blog, we’ll talk through the characteristics you should look for when enlisting project team members, an executive sponsor, and a project manager.


Project Team

Your project team members should be selected carefully. As a representation of your organization as a whole, this team should include an individual from every facet of the business that will be affected by the new system. These stakeholders should have a thorough understanding of their business areas as well as perspective on how their team’s activities fit into the organization’s big-picture operations. This knowledge will enable them to speak to the specific needs and nuances of their department as well as how their requirements might be prioritized among others. Among this mix of team members, you’ll want key opinion leaders who have a certain amount of clout within their departments. Involving them from the start will ensure you have inherent senior-level buy-in throughout the process, which will keep employee resistance at bay. At the same time, the team should include employees who know the current system well and can envision how the new system will impact the day-to-day. Eventually, these project team members will be tasked with leading their teams in training and fielding questions as “super users” during implementation.


Executive Sponsor

Any large-scale project with the impact of an ERP implementation should have an executive sponsor. This individual should be or report directly to the CEO and come from a vantage point that covers all affected areas of the organization. Ideally, they will be familiar with the current system and have experience in the ERP system selection process. The sponsor should be heavily involved in making the business case for the new or upgraded system and be prepared to speak to the benefits of the change to key stakeholders. As an integrated participant in the selection process, the sponsor will add high-profile support to the project and can help diffuse any interdepartmental conflicts that may arise.


Project Manager

Once your project team has been assembled and your executive sponsor has been identified, it is time to enlist the help of a dedicated project manager to oversee the comprehensive ERP process and coordinate all the moving pieces along the way. Whether your project manager comes from within your company or is hired as a consultant, they are responsible for assigning tasks and resources throughout all phases of the project. In keeping the rollout on course, they will keep a close eye on schedule and budget and report on major milestones and unforeseen issues as they arise. To ensure consistency, their tenure should last throughout the selection and implementation phases of the project.


Using Outside Consultants

Aside from assembling an internal team to drive your ERP implementation, you may want to consider using an outside consultant. A consultant, especially fluent in the in the solution intended to be implemented, coupled with best practice credentials, can help you obtain an objective view of your organization’s processes and evolving employee roles. In addition, an ERP consultant can offer insights you may not have or even be thinking about, as well as protect your interests and advise on ways to save costs, time and maintenance of your system. Outside consultants are typically very well versed on industry standards and may have specific industry or sector expertise. This is especially helpful for manufacturers in FDA regulated industries, or those with specific ISO quality standards.


Assembling an all-star team for your ERP project is critical to your long-term success, so do not take these decisions lightly. By procuring the expertise and support of your organization’s best and brightest, you’ll set up your organization for a well-informed ERP selection process and a drama-free implementation.