ERP Project Management
MAde EAsy WITH ALLUVIONIC
- Ensure you have the right manager for your ERP project
- Find the ERP solution best suited for your organization
- Manage vital processes including planning, purchasing, finance, accounting, human resources, timekeeping, and more
- Prepare your business for change and ensure resiliency with systematic Organizational Change Management implementation
WHAT IS ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING?
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software can help you manage many important business functions including finance, operations, manufacturing, human resources, and more. Although ERP systems often require a lot of project management in order to be implemented correctly, they are very helpful in managing processes that are vital to success.
UNDERSTANDING ERP IMPLEMENTATIONS
To better understand the complex nature of ERP implementation, it is helpful to use the analogy of a heart transplant. When a vital organ is being replaced, all the other functions of the body are impacted, but they also must continue functioning during the surgery. The surgeon monitors the patient and expertly leads a team of skilled doctors so the operation can succeed.
Software that connects data, processes, and people in your business sometimes needs to be replaced and a new system implemented. During this time, everyone must still keep doing their jobs which requires extensive organizational change management (OCM) and project management.
THE IMPLEMENTATION TEAM
The success of a project is determined by the people on the implementation team, which typically includes system implementation experts, data conversion resources, business subject matter experts, a steering committee, and a project manager. Many of these role are filled by consultants, employees, and subcontractors. As a result, many team members have different skills, physical locations, and time zones. Managing this diverse team requires a skilled ERP project manager who can lead the implementation and organize his team with a focus on collaboration.
THE PROJECT MANAGER ROLE
A successful project manager must be both technically competent and emotionally intelligent in order to deal with ERP projects, as they are long and complicated. These conditions can stress and fatigue even the most engaged team members as they also have daily responsibilities outside of the implementation. A balanced approach to ERP project management includes both technical and people skills.
THE TECHNICAL SKILLS
The project manager guides the team through each phase of the implementation. The phases include planning, ongoing management, requirements and design, testing, training, go-live, and post-go-live support.
Most of the project manager’s time is spent in the planning phase of the ERP project. Defining the project schedule takes a coordinated effort of many members of the implementation team. The project manager tracks the schedule daily and sometimes hourly.
Throughout the implementation, ERP project managers provide accountability to the team by tracking action items, removing roadblocks, and escalating issues. Because ERP implementations are lengthy, stakeholders frequently fail to recall previous decisions. Diligently maintaining action items, risks, and decisions is vital to preventing rework or conflict later in the project.
Another key function of the project manager role is a dedicated commitment to documentation, especially during the requirements and design phase. Obtaining a signed acknowledgment of requirements is vital before configuring the system.
A large portion of time in the implementation is spent testing. Several iterations of testing occur, each with a different focus. These testing cycles include functional, systems integration, regression, and user acceptance testing. Functional testing exposes Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to the system. During systems integration testing, the system is configured as specified in the design documents. In the early stages, SMEs will request a lot of changes. It is important to document these requests in the next revision of design documents. Regression testing ensures that the system still works as expected after changes have been implemented. User acceptance testing is the final cycle where users accept that the system functions as designed.
Project managers stress the importance of training with SMEs. Throughout the lifecycle of the project, SMEs are instructed to develop work instructions and training sessions to conduct with their peers.
Through regular meetings and emails, the project manager keeps training at the forefront of the team’s mind. Before training end-users, SMEs should conduct a short training session with one another. These sessions are extremely successful in recognizing handoffs, building confidence, and identifying issues with work instructions. The importance of documenting handoffs is highly emphasized. The most common post-go-live issues stem back to people not knowing how, what, or when they were supposed to do something.
As go-live approaches, the project manager builds anticipation around the go-live date. Some tactics include displaying countdown clocks, sharing success stories that highlight the benefits of the new system, and providing physical materials that reinforce the available support. Go-live is an exciting day where the team continues executing the cutover plan. The implementation team’s dedication continues at least sixty to ninety days after go-live. The project manager continues regular communications around the overall project status, shares the benefits realized, and recognizes the implementation team.
Managing expectations is critical to success because the new system will not function exactly like the previous one. If it did, there is likely little justification for the implementation or migration at all. Stakeholders can become easily frustrated when functionality that worked before no longer seems to work. A project manager constantly level sets expectations, reminding individuals that some efficiencies will be gained, and others lost.
LEADING THROUGH CHANGE
The project manager rallies, encourages, and motivates the team. They do so by planning and executing the organizational change management (OCM) strategy. A popular organizational change methodology is Prosci’s ADKAR model. This model is designed to educate and empower impacted individuals. The five elements that individuals must achieve to be successful are: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. Powerful and effective OCM strategies are ones that address each of these five elements.
Project managers also lead regular communication meetings. These meetings hyper-focus on preparing stakeholders for the disruption that a new ERP system has on daily operations. ERP Project Management communication strategies include consistent messages from senior leadership. These messages raise awareness for the upcoming change. They also emphasize the benefits for and impact on all end users. Key personnel are trained as SMEs in their functional area of the ERP system. These SMEs also convey the benefits of moving to the new system to peers, employees, and managers to raise desire.
DELIVERING BUSINESS VALUE
By understanding human emotion and exercising strong technical ERP project management skills, the project manager delivers ultimate business value. ERP implementations, like surgeries, require a specialized team with the right leader.
Before embarking on your ERP implementation journey, ensure you have the right project manager. Contact the project experts at Alluvionic to determine if a consulting solution is right for you or read more at https://alluvionic.com/project-management/.