Without direction and governance, an ERP project could fall short of the goals you hoped to achieve. An ERP steering committee is a great way to keep these projects on track.

Comprised of executive-level leaders and other ERP stakeholders, a steering committee is an entity that oversees the implementation and ensures every component is aligned with the company’s strategic goals.

Today, we’re taking a look at the role of a steering committee within an ERP project. 

Who Should be on an ERP Steering Committee?

When building an ERP steering committee, you’ll engage key decision-makers from each business unit the project may affect. The result will be a cross-functional group that has ultimate authority over every aspect of the ERP implementation

Some of the key executives to include are:

  • The CEO
  • The CIO
  • The ERP project manager
  • Business managers at the EVP or VP level

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The Role of the Steering Committee

Let’s take a look at what you should expect an ERP steering committee to do.

1. Provide Project Direction

First, a steering committee is responsible for providing overall, general leadership throughout your project. They should be active, vocal change champions, promoting the benefits of the new ERP software and new business processes to other team members within your organization.

Along the way, they’ll keep a close eye on the trajectory of the project, making sure it’s making progress toward achieving the desired future state.

2. Ensure Organizational Alignment

Many ERP failures are due to the fact that the ERP system doesn’t live up to expectations. You can avoid this fate by forming a steering committee tasked with ensuring that each aspect of the project aligns with your overall corporate strategy.

Steering committee members should routinely review project deliverables to make sure they reflect your goals. Items to review include various types of business process documentation, as well as project blueprints. 

3. Control Timelines and Budgets

It’s not uncommon for ERP projects to take longer and cost more money than expected. Many of these overruns occur because there aren’t sufficient project controls in place.

For example, without project controls, team members might agree to ideas, such as extensive customization, that add unnecessary time and cost. 

To avoid this issue, we recommend forming a project steering committee so they can offer a much-needed reality check and a heavy dose of prudence.

Any time someone makes a customization request or change request, it should go to the committee for approval. This way, they can analyze the costs and risks relative to the benefits.  

4. Approve Changes and Make Decisions

It’s idealistic to think that an ERP project will seamlessly move from start to finish without the need for any course correction. This is rarely the case. 

You can mitigate these setbacks by setting realistic expectations and preparing for ERP selection and implementation long before the project kickoff.

While this is a great start, these preventative measures can only take you so far. To be truly ready for any type of change to your project scope, schedule, or budget, an executive steering committee is essential. These team members can review the requested changes and sign off on only those that align with project goals.

5. Provide Internal Resource Support

Approving changes is one thing, but actually putting the people in place to execute those changes is a different story.

For instance, what would you do if you discovered your project required a heavy time investment from your subject matter experts (SMEs)? A mid-level manager couldn’t exactly ask an SME to take time out of their busy day to handle project-related matters.

In cases likes this, the executives on a steering committee have the level of authority to successfully make such requests and provide backfill resources.

6. Ensure Project Ownership

Finally, an executive steering committee is responsible for ensuring that executives in your company are actively engaged in the change effort. This is the best way to keep them involved and gather their input at every critical juncture. 

Without such a team in place, it’s all too easy for executives to take a hands-off approach to the project, which could put the entire project at risk. The more involved your committee members are, the more protected you’ll be against blindsides and setbacks. 

Steer Your Project in the Right Direction

Establishing an ERP steering committee is one of the smartest, most proactive moves you can make for your project and your company as a whole.

Does the idea of pooling together executives sound overwhelming to you? If so, our ERP software consultants can help you form a dedicated committee that will help you ensure a successful ERP implementation. Contact us below to learn more. 

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