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Most organizations realize the value of project core teams. However, the best way to structure and manage those teams is often the subject of debate. It is important to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of your project team from the beginning of the project to avoid falling into the trap of poorly resourced project teams, lack of representation from key business areas or low accountability. Fortunately, there is a right way to establish and get the most use out of your ERP implementation core teams.

Below are a few things to consider when assembling your ERP project core team:

Make the ERP implementation the team’s top priority. Many of our clients are mid-size organizations without people on the bench waiting for an ERP implementation to come along. The shaky global economy has made most organizations lean, which can make it even more difficult than normal to appropriately delegate resources for ERP success. In a perfect world, your ERP core team would be fully dedicated to the project, but that’s not a realistic scenario for most organizations. To mitigate this risk, the executive team needs to clearly define expectations and prioritize work so the ERP project comes first. Although the team’s day-to-day work isn’t likely to go away, it is possible to bring in extra support for these team members so they are able to make the project their top priority. Priority and focus are critical ERP success factors, so executives should ensure team members have the support and direction they need to succeed.

Clearly define roles, responsibilities and accountability measures. Understanding roles, responsibilities and accountability measures is often easier said than done for project teams. A good ERP project charter will define exactly how decisions are made, issues are resolved and activities are completed – including who is responsible for what. This covers everything from process definition and sign-off to testing and training to the multitude of other project activities required for a successful ERP implementation. This definition should also include clarity on the roles and responsibilities of your ERP consultants or any other third-party ERP expert called in to help. It is critical that each team member be assigned responsibilities that play to their strengths, experience level and bandwidth. Just as important as the core team’s responsibilities is the delineation of what they should not be doing and what the executive steering committee should be responsible for instead.

Don’t view the core team as a substitute for an executive steering committee. In several of our expert witness engagements, we have seen steering committees completely delegate the project to their core team. While there is merit to delegating certain day-to-day activities, some activities should not be delegated. For example, final sign-off on how business processes are going to look in the new ERP system or key decisions on the organization’s operational model are decisions that should be driven by the executive ranks rather than ERP project team members. This governance mechanism is critical to not only get the work done but even more importantly, to provide the executive buy-in and leadership required for a successful implementation.

These three tips are a good starting point for getting your ERP implementation project team on the right track. Your organization will be in a much better position to manage a successful ERP implementation and mitigate the many risks associated with ERP projects.

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