Best Practices for Staffing an ERP Implementation
A digital transformation starts when an individual recognizes a need for a technology upgrade within their department or area of expertise. When this need is identified, the best thing that individual can do is approach executives in other departments to present their needs and build the foundation for the delivery of cross-departmental benefits as a result of this project.
Once the need is identified, the next big hurdle can be confronted: project staffing. Staffing an ERP project can be difficult, leading many to wonder about the best ways to utilize top talent and leaders, but also how to encourage engagement throughout the entire process. In short, the answer leads back to the vitality of a solid project plan and the application of best practices to encourage engagement and, ultimately, project success.
Preparing Your Team & Organizing Resources Prior to ERP Implementation
From there, the newly assembled team of ERP upgrade advocates can organize an official, cross-functional team of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) prior to meeting with vendors or doing anything else for the project. This team should then discuss the project goals and needs to encourage overall involvement in the future vision. At this point, the SMEs should also anoint someone to run the project and determine their need for an outside ERP advisory firm if the necessary expertise is not internally available. The anointed, mid-level leader will be charged with driving the initiative.
Next, the business should work to recruit an executive-level leader, one who is held accountable at a higher level for driving the project and who has the availability to focus on the ERP software upgrade. If either leader is too busy to commit themselves to the project, you should not continue with the initiative. Businesses must give these leaders the time to truly lead the project. That project structure and executive sponsorship will be vital to the project’s future success because these individuals are experts in their areas of the business and will ensure that the project is steered in the right direction. Both leaders should be employees who are well-liked by their peers, and whom others will want to work with and listen to.
Once leadership is established, the business should create teams of SMEs from each core area of operations needing to be addressed, including accounting, operations, sales, HR, and more. Ultimately, that leadership team is not just one person, it is multiple people, ensuring that no single individual is required to work full-time on the project (unless it is a larger project).
Preparing the Teams for Success
The most important thing to do at this phase is to empower your people to make decisions. All too often, the decision-making power lies with a single individual at the top of the organization, so when a choice needs to be made, a hold is put on the entire project to wait for that single person’s decision. It is unproductive to give employees the responsibility of ensuring the success of the project while barring them from truly having an impact. This further emphasizes the importance of structure because, in its absence, disorganization will become a major roadblock. Empowered individuals who care will guarantee your project is a success in a timely matter. As a final step prior to launching the project, the leadership team should meet to set goals to pave a path for the transformation and maintain a clear standard for all involved parties.
Keeping Talent Engaged During the Project
From the very beginning, leadership should set a meeting cadence and make people attend, even if there is not much to talk about because it is vital to set a communication standard early on. These meetings should take place every week, maybe even multiple times a week since the cadence and how often you do it are not the primary factors, they are setting it and ensuring the individuals stay involved. If that standard is not set, individuals will focus on the many other things they have to do and they will slip away as other things begin to take higher priority. The meeting cadence is really the foundation for propelling the project forward, so you should always schedule the next meeting prior to ending the current one to ensure progress continues to be made. It is also important to note that if a meeting seems pointless, it means that someone in the meeting is talking too much or is not adding real value. When this happens, you need to remove that person from the meetings so that everyone else can work. If someone is suppressing the project, it is the initiative and responsibility of the leader to correct the situation.
Also, remember to incentivize the employees who are dedicating their time to the project. Offer them additional time off, a special gift, monetary compensation, and more. This encourages involvement and high performance throughout the entirety of the project.
Managing Significant Leadership Changes During Implementation
Beware of changes in leadership that tend to provoke a change in direction for the project. In our experience, projects that encounter leadership changes at the executive level are prone to getting canceled, which is a worst-case scenario that businesses want to avoid due to heavy financial and staff investment.
When there is a major change in leadership, someone may take charge who holds a different vision from their predecessor, especially if they were not on board for the original roadmap, or they bring a different view for the company’s future, it completely depends on the person and organization. This emphasizes the importance of preserving project documentation to track key decisions, the vision, roadmap, customizations, and goals for the transformation. If documentation is neglected and an important individual leaves, a new leader may insist on scrapping the ERP implementation and starting over with something they are familiar with.
New leaders entering a project are encouraged to put trust in the overall team they inherited. The path of least resistance is to persevere with the current ERP deployment. Though it may seem impossible, the best course of action may be to rip off the metaphorical Band-Aid by simply getting the implementation finished with the right minimum viable product rather than continue building out endless enhancements or starting over from scratch.
Having the right leadership and a structural plan in place is vital to ensure the success of your ERP project. New leaders filling roles of those who depart a project should be vetted for their willingness to support the team’s efforts to finish the job, not disrupt the process. Improperly staffing your team will lead to project failure and significant loss of both time and resources, so don’t leave your structural plan to chance, schedule a consultation with an expert ERP consultant today!