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Engaging key stakeholders early and often is critical to a successful ERP implementation. One of the first steps is getting their input on requirements for a new ERP system.
Although project managers and leaders may be tempted to put this step off -- for any number of real-world reasons -- it's important not to do so. Key stakeholders should be involved in the requirements analysis phase, including weighing in on both technical requirements and non-technical requirements, such as cost, contract and project timeline.
The following list includes key stakeholders projects managers and leaders should consider:
- CEO. The organization's leader may take an active interest in a big ERP project, and will likely want to understand the need, cost, impact on the business, change management plans and how the ERP will improve the work environment.
- Executive team. Members of the executive team may have input on the budget, final project approval and allocation of resources to the project. They may also have specific requirements as they consider how the ERP system will impact employees within their respective departments or business units.
- Employees. While employees may not have a deciding vote on the project, they may have input when it comes to requirements analysis and how the new ERP will impact their day-to-day work. Finding champions from this group can provide valuable input and feedback, and can work to get buy-in from their colleagues.
- Information technology. The IT team typically leads ERP projects, or at a minimum, is a key stakeholder in the implementation and post go-live support phases. IT brings a unique understanding of the organization's current systems and will help during the requirements analysis phase to ensure that data can flow between these systems as needed. Also, based on their experience with other systems, they will also offer insight into technical and security requirements that should be included in the analysis.
The above groups are typical key stakeholders. However, identifying other key stakeholders that are specific to the organization and the needs of a particular project is also critical.
To gain key stakeholder support and backing, develop a strategy to work with each, since they have different interests.
Involving key stakeholders in the requirements analysis step offers a number of benefits. These include the following:
- Getting buy-in from the business;
- Ensuring the inclusion of key requirements; and
- Building support for the new ERP system throughout the organization.
From a change management perspective, people are often more willing to adopt new technologies and processes when they've had an opportunity to participate in the project. While a project leader may not be able to involve every stakeholder, ensuring that the right stakeholders have an opportunity to provide input, get regular updates and follow through with their most important requests is crucial.
The risks of not including key stakeholders can be significant. Here's a look at some of those:
- Key stakeholders may not support the project, so it can't get off the ground.
- They may become roadblocks to the ERP project's success, a consequence that can lead to project failure.
- A project manager or leader may miss key requirements, and therefore deliver an ERP system that does not meet the needs of the organization.
- A project manager or leader may fall short on the training, which leads to confusion, data quality issues and a desire to abandon the new system altogether.
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