- Executive sponsorship, committee and support
- Select a project manager
- Cross functional team assigned
- Training for all users
- Test prior to “Go-Live”
Without the CEO’s or COO’s full support of the project, the probability of success is dramatically decreased. A culture of accountability with consequences must be created combined with direct communication from the Company Executives. If the ERP implementation team and the rest of the company does not feel nor understand the sense of urgency and criticality of having a successful ERP launch, full participation from all business functions will not happen.
The project lead should be a person with broad knowledge of the company’s business, processes, have the ability to articulate the ERP solution vision, have respect of the executive sponsor/committee and the personality strength to work with and ability to communicate effectively across functional lines, the implementation team, and the Executive sponsor/committee. The project lead needs to be a strong communicator and have the ability to eliminate the resistance to change which will arise. The ability to communicate, coach and act decisively cannot be emphasized enough.
The project lead should be a key operational stakeholder. From my experience the project lead typically comes from the manufacturing, finance, or IT organization. I strongly recommend an IT employee not lead the project for a few reasons including the greater likelihood the project will be viewed as a corporate IT project (which it is not), even the best IT employees do not understand the working requirement nuances of manufacturing and finance well enough, and it places the accountability on a support function as opposed to the people who will be responsible for the project’s success.
Cross Functional Teams
Core Team: It is imperative that an adequate number of key personnel from all impacted functions be assigned to the core implementation project team led by the Project Lead. These core team members will be relied upon to make/communicate critical workflow decisions, obtain input at the appropriate time, and communicate decisions and status to the functional working team (discussed below).
Functional Working Team: Best practices have a separate working team for each function, led by the function’s Core Team member. The Core Team member’s responsibility to:
- Be the project manager for the function
- Uncover any “gotchas” that need to be addressed prior to the ERP system go-live event
- Communicate appropriate issues raised by the functional working team to the Core team
- Drive tasks and open issues to closure
- Ensure adequate resources are being assigned to the project within the function
- Motivator and cheerleader for the functional working team members and across the function company wide.
Lack of proper training is one of the biggest reasons for failed deployments. Inevitably, users will be frustrated by their decreased productivity, inaccurate information and reports, and will ultimately blame the software for being too difficult to use.
The old British proverb penny-wise and pound-foolish is a perfect description for companies that invest a great of time and money to obtain an ERP system, but decide to save some money at the end by skimping on training. A few of the obvious benefits that will increase the probability of having a successful deployment by orders of magnitude, which proper training provides are:
- Educate users how to use the system in their functional area. This will accelerate the learning curve on the proper and optimum way to use the system which leads to increase productivity
- Provide users knowledge so they understand the impact of any errors they make on other users and the company
- Reduce the level of frustration and angst in learning the new system
Without proper training, the chances of having a smooth and successful launch will be greatly reduced. In addition, improper use of the system will rapidly spread throughout the company has new employees will be instructed on improper use.
Test Prior to Go-Live
Testing should occur during the period between training and system Go-Live. Sufficient testing serves many purposes including making sure the users know how to use the system properly, the work flow processes that are going to be implemented are efficient, and the results are accurate.
If an issue is surfaced during the testing period, then more training is required, a work flow process needs to be modified; which may require additional training or perhaps a system setting or configuration needs to be modified.
About the Author
Bob Swedroe is President and CEO of Expandable Software, Inc., a leader in manufacturing software development since 1983. Bob has held executive management positions at both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies including XO Communications, Silicon Graphics and Concentric Networks.
About Expandable Software, Inc.
Expandable Software, Inc. develops, markets and supports and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite designed to help fast-growing manufacturing companies maximize business performance.
Expandable’s fully integrated enterprise solution achieves a low total cost of ownership by delivering long-term deployment of a single system implementation.
With its unique model of direct sales and support, Expandable minimizes implementation costs and assures expert ongoing customer support.