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We had a very informative and energetic first day of ERP Boot Camp yesterday here in Denver. With over 20 ERP project managers, executive sponsors, and CIOs in attendance, we have a diverse group with good interaction, heavy engagement, and a strong desire to understand all there is to know about ERP implementations.

I started the day by listening to each of the participants’ current ERP projects and their top challenges and concerns. Surprisingly, few of the participants concerns are about the software. Instead, most of the attendees’ concerns focus on how to develop realistic implementation plan estimates, how to handle organizational change management, and how to leverage ERP software to enable better business processes.

The first formal presentation started with ERP Basic Training, which outlines 20 key factors that are essential to any successful ERP implementation. This was a great way to stimulate initial conversation and thought, and the presentation indeed generated a great number of questions. The concepts from this session laid the foundation for other content that we delivered throughout the day.

One of Panorama’s project managers provided a good presentation about ERP implementation project management and planning: for example, how to define a proper project plan, including how to estimate the right about of implementation duration and cost. I was also joined by the general manager and vice president of Oracle JD Edwards, where we discussed various implementation strategies such as single system vs. best of breed, big bang vs. phased implementation, global vs. localized system design, single vs. multiple instance, and a host of other issues.

Our afternoon session focused on concepts around building an ERP business blueprint. We discussed business process re-engineering and other key activities that should begin prior to the start of ERP installation and configuration, but many companies fail to address. We also had a great discussion with one of Panorama’s senior project managers around how ERP relates to lean manufacturing concepts, another key to defining and streamlining business processes as part of an efficient ERP implementation.

We closed out the day with an expert panel discussion, which included two ERP project managers from Panorama and the head of product marketing at Epicor. The questions and topics were broad and varied – it was a very energetic conversation that covered everything from trends in the ERP market, the pros and cons and SaaS and cloud ERP models, and tips to address product governance and risk.

Overall, a great first day. I found that I gained as much knowledge as I delivered and look forward to the next two days. Today’s focus is on organizational change management, which is a topic on everyone’s mind at the session. Look for more updates this week.