Building a Power Team:  The first major step in the journey toward adopting a new ERP system for your organization is assembling an effective project team. A well-appointed team can help you not only select the best possible ERP system suited to meet your organization’s needs but also mitigate employee resistance and secure leadership buy-in.

Assembling an all-star team for your ERP project is critical to your implementation success, so do not take these decisions lightly. Here are some tips in your search for the most suitable employees to become the project team members, the executive sponsor and the project manager:

Project Team Members

What individual characteristics make a successful project team? The first two: diversity and depth of knowledge. This team should include individuals from every facet of the business that will be affected by the new system. Each individual needs to bring in-depth knowledge of the current system and business processes along with a vision of how the new system can best impact their day-to-day. Equally important, these individual stakeholders should have a thorough understanding of their business areas and how those areas serve the organization’s strategic initiative. This knowledge will enable them to speak to the specific needs and nuances of their department but keep them from singularly focusing on how the ERP system will fit their department needs only. Unfortunately, a self-serving team member could jeopardize the success of the selection process; egos should be checked at the conference room door. Recruiting non-management employees with subject matter expertise is an effective strategy for giving employees ownership in this most important decision. Remember, managers are often busy, and that alone could extend the selection process.

Executive Sponsor

Any large-scale project with the impact of an ERP implementation requires an executive sponsor. This individual should report directly to the CEO and come from a vantage point that covers all affected areas of the organization. Ideally, the sponsor will be familiar with the current system(s) and have experience in the ERP system selection process. The sponsor should oversee building the business case for the new or upgraded system and should present 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 sponsor has been identified, the final step is to appoint a dedicated project manager to oversee the comprehensive ERP selection process and coordinate all the moving pieces along the way. Whether appointed from within the project team or hired as a consultant from a third-party organization, the project manager is responsible for assigning tasks and resources throughout all phases of the project. Strong project management will help keep your selection process on time and on budget. To ensure consistency, the project manager’s tenure should last throughout the selection and negotiation process and, if possible, even throughout the initial implementation phase to assist with internal change management.

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, one knowledgeable of various solutions available in the market and one coupled with best practice credentials of your industry, 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 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 and by no means an easy task. Finding the right individuals with the right characteristics suited to the task will help you secure the expertise and support of your organization’s best and brightest. And ultimately, this team will be the key to running a well-informed ERP selection process and a drama-free implementation.

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E-Book: ERP System Selection, Implementation and Beyond: A Playbook for SMB Manufacturers in FDA-Regulated Industries
In this e-book, we’ll provide comprehensive guide for small and midsize manufacturers in FDA-regulated industries who are considering ERP system adoption.