One of most important ERP project critical success factors is executive buy-in and support. But what exactly does “buy-in” mean? Approve the funds to get the project going? Or does it mean more than this? Executive buy-in needs to go beyond approving the budget to pay for the project. There needs to be an executive Steering Committee that makes key business decisions that will affect their operational model and organization. Inevitably, there are going to be significant business decisions that will need to be escalated to executive management, and executives need to be engaged in the project to help make these important decisions.
Secondly, large implementations that cross geographies often involve political battles in terms of how the business will operate in the post-implementation world. Executives often need to be the ones to resolve such issues, so their involvement is important in this regard as well. During a large IT project, they are often called upon to make tough decisions regarding changes to operating models, business processes, organizational and job changes, and other sensitive topics that will not be adequately resolved without their involvement.
Finally, ERP projects also require heavy involvement from internal employees.
Executives are the ones that can ultimately make these resources available to the project. Without executive support, it can be very difficult to procure the employee resources that are needed to make a project successful. Only by having true buy-in to the project will executives understand the importance of ensuring the right people are available to make the project successful.
In summary, expectations should be managed up front so that key project stakeholders understand that executive involvement and buy-in will need extend beyond merely approving the budget. This is a key organizational change management component of successful ERP projects.