I recently joined Panorama as an ERP consultant and as such, I was assigned to newly launched ERP implementation. As I become acquainted with the project, I’m reminded of my initial revelations on conducting enterprise planning and configuration meetings. Regardless of your experience level with ERP projects and consulting, I’d like to share the seven steps I learned for performing effective enterprise planning meetings.
Seven Tips for Conducting ERP Implementation Meetings
- Ask why I am here? Be sure to keep in mind what your role is and why you’re here. Remember, you’re working for the client and you are there to help them. Your sole responsibility is to help them accomplish their goal(s) and nothing else. Always remember that the clients are most likely unfamiliar with you and any methodologies you bring to the project.
- Maintain the proper presence. As I mentioned above, remember what your true role is for this particular project. You’re not here to physically configure the new ERP; your role is to help guide and facilitate the process. You role is to help guarantee the client realizes the benefits the project is intended to obtain.
- Do your homework. Before arrival, learn as much as you can about the client, their industry, and any current issues that the client might be facing (i.e. current legislation, etc). Be as familiar with the ERP software package you’re helping implement. If it has been little a while since you’ve worked with this specific ERP system, refresh yourself on the package and make sure you review any upgrades that might have taken place since that last implementation you performed. Doing your homework will drive significant benefits for the client (and you) as you help the client configure the ERP application around their business operations.
- Pay Attention. If you watch closely, you’ll notice a transition as the ERP implementation progresses. The stakeholders will begin to see the future and the positive impact the new ERP software will have on the business and its processes. They will immediately begin rethinking their normal workday and want you to be aware of it. As a consultant, it is key for you to be ready and able to document anything and everything that might be spoken or diagrammed.
- Take lots and lots of notes. You never know what might be said, either directly or indirectly, by your project stakeholders. It might be an off-handed comment about a process they wish they could complete, or maybe a pain point that needs to be addressed. It is vitally important to make sure everything is captured for future use and documentation. As far as your note methodology, that is totally up to you. I usually type copious notes, but I have also used an audio recording application on my Smartphone. Okay in all honesty, I’ve even used a cassette tape recorder. Whatever process or device you are most comfortable with will work.
- Ask lots and lots of questions. At times your role as a consultant almost needs be one of a Devil’s advocate. While you won’t know everything about your client’s business, you probably have a good idea how it works. To that point, your role is to thoroughly empathize with your stakeholder’s needs and attempt to expose any gaps or processes that need correcting.
- Keep the project team focused. In many cases your stakeholders are so excited about their newly purchased ERP software, they just can’t wait to start using it. Given that fact, it is important to keep the project team involved and focused on the task at hand. Be sure everyone has juggled their schedules accordingly, and that you have a true captive audience to effectively complete the day’s tasks and topics.
While this may not be an exhaustive list, it is an important one. If everyone is working together and you’re on top of your game, effective planning and configuration meetings can pay long-term dividends for your ERP implementation.
Blog post written by John Hutchison, Senior Consultant, at Panorama Consulting Group.