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It is hard to dispute the fact that ERP implementations bring a great many challenges to an organization. From choosing the best-fit ERP software to streamlining business processes to ensuring the right people are at hand to guide the implementation and ensure benefits realization, a typical ERP project can really put an organization the test . . . and quickly reveal areas of great need.

A recent study by CompTIA brings this issue to the forefront. According to State of the IT Skills Gap, 93-percent of respondent companies face a “difference between existing and desired skill levels” among their IT staffs. Further, close to 60-percent of respondents indicated that their staffs’ corporate IT skills are “moderately close or not even close” to where they would want them to be. Nearly half the respondents cited reasons behind the gap including IT staff members being unable to stay current with the necessary skills of their profession and a lack of resources to supplement IT efforts.

While this gap certainly is not specific to those organizations undergoing an ERP implementation, it is likely that a project of that magnitude would quickly draw attention to the capabilities (or lack thereof) of the IT department. Even the best IT employees will still face new technology challenges when it comes to an IT project. For instance, they may not understand your current infrastructural needs with a new system, nor are they ready to assess the impending risk involved with migrating to a new system. If you’re part of an organization contemplating or embarking on an ERP implementation, it would be in your best interest to start mitigating the risk of this gap immediately (if not sooner!). Some good places to start are:

1. Finding the resources. The best way to find – and justify – resources to bolster the IT department for an ERP implementation is by writing a detailed business case. Among other points, the business case should identify the estimated costs, anticipated benefits and key performance indicators to track those benefits. This will quickly clarify the anticipated ROI of the project, and pinpoint areas that may need short-term resources to create long-term benefits.

2.  Training, training and training some more. Even graduates of top IT schools may not have received the training necessary to truly manage an enterprise software initiative. It also is important to keep current on new software technological changes as there are improvements made every six months (if not more frequently). Rather than relying on the ERP vendor’s canned training package, an organization in true “benefits realization mode” will contract with a third-party to not just provide an overview of ERP software, configuration and implementation, but also to oversee the development of training materials customized to the organization. A good place to start is by registering your IT staff for Panorama’s ERP Boot Camp (to be held September 12 – 14 in Denver), an intensive three-day session necessary for all team members involved in implementation. At Boot Camp, your IT staff will truly begin to understand the demands of an ERP project.

3. Hiring ERP experts. The addition of contract staff members already equipped with the expertise and experience to successfully configure and implement a specific ERP system is a very wise choice. Do not leave your ERP implementation project to guesswork. Panorama’s ERP staffing arm can bring just those people to your organization’s door for both short- and long-term engagements. Find our more about Panorama’s offerings and our PERFECT Match staffing methodology on our ERP staffing services page    

Make no mistake about it: a gap between the skills of an IT department and the needs of an ERP implementation is an issue that needs to be addressed to ensure ERP success. Contact Panorama today to discuss how we can help your organization assess and address your ERP staffing needs.