Successfully implementing a new ERP system requires a dedicated team that possesses the necessary skill sets to carry out the project. Assembling that group can be a challenging task.
In addition to company employees, the team will likely include individuals from outside the organization, such as an implementation partner, consultants or temporary workers. Company employees who provide input on requirements or test the new ERP system may come on board later if needed.
While some team members may play more than one role, there are particular jobs that every ERP project team should fill. Here is a list of those key roles and their duties.
The project's executive sponsor works on corporate-level items, including securing buy-in from other organizational leaders. The sponsor is a potential escalation point when serious issues arise and can help free up funds if needed. The executive sponsor may also share insight on other company initiatives that could affect ERP planning.
The project leader/owner is responsible for the project. This person will make most of the key decisions with input from other team members and is another possible escalation point. The leader/owner is also typically responsible for building the project team, developing and getting the budget approved, working with the vendor on high-level items and making tough choices when needed. Project leaders are usually senior members of the organization.
Depending on project size and number of implementation partners, multiple project managers may work on an ERP implementation at once. For example, one may take charge of internal resources and another might oversee the implementation partner's resources. Very large projects may include a senior project manager who's responsible for the overall project, with more junior project managers managing sub-projects.
Often, an external party such as the vendor who sold the ERP software license or an implementation specialist assists with the implementation. Typically, the best implementation partner has done multiple implementations of the software. Partners usually work with the group to make sure the requirements are clear, then configure the system. The implementation partner may also participate in executive meetings related to the project, document configuration decisions, help with testing and run meetings.
Subject matter experts (SMEs)
These team members often play a key role throughout the project. They help define the requirements, test the new system once the IT team configures it and help develop the training material.
The IT team leads an ERP system implementation. It plays a key role in defining requirements and managing the project and likely appoints the project manager, in addition to ensuring the ERP software integrates with other organizational systems. IT is responsible for security and confirms that the vendor's software is secure, a process that starts before the organization agrees to and signs the contract.
Throughout the project, the team tests the ERP system to make sure it is meeting employee needs and that the technology team implements it according to requirements. SMEs are usually part of the test team, but some employees should be included as well. They can help broaden testing coverage because ERP implementation team members may skip testing parts of the system that are familiar to them.
The communications team member is invaluable in creating successful change management. They help craft messages to employees that explain the need for the new ERP system, how it will impact employees and why it's important for the organization. Other members of the project team are likely to overlook or skimp on communicating to employees on a regular basis. That lack of communication can negatively affect the system rollout.
Training employees and possibly third parties on the new ERP system is key to ensuring that employees use the system properly, people are comfortable with their new processes and productivity does not drop significantly during the transition. The person in charge of training also develops the training material for new employees.
Data migration lead
Every ERP implementation needs a data migration lead because data migration can significantly affect the rollout. If the technology team does not convert important information or does not convert it correctly, employees will have to continue referencing the old ERP system until the data is fixed. Incorrect data in the system can also negatively affect suppliers and customers.
Consultants bring project experience that may be missing in-house. They can help develop requirements, evaluate ERP systems and assist with testing the new ERP system, among other tasks.