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ERP implementation failures are common. One secret to avoiding them: building the right teams!

There are four key team and governance causes of ERP implementation failure. If you wait until implementation to mitigate these risks, you might already be too late. Many take months to address.

In most cases, you’ll want to get the ball rolling alongside an ERP software selection project or other pre-implementation readiness projects.

We are going to give you the secret for building the right team. Here are some common problems we see in ERP project implementations: 

Problem #1: Core team members don’t have enough time for the project

For an ERP implementation to succeed, you must commit a core team of top-performing employees for the project’s duration, which can span six months to many years for large, multi-site implementations.

Our enterprise-sized clients have the financial luxury of being able to dedicate their core team members to the project for 100% of their time. Our mid-sized and SMB clients don’t have this luxury. They need their core team members to split time between the ERP implementation project and their day-jobs.

Even for mid-sized and SMB clients, the minimum commitment level of a core team member should be an average of 50% of their working hours. They’ll be spending their time remapping processes, developing documentation, testing the system, and training end-users. And, when the team members are on ERP duty, they’ll be in an ERP war room, away from their desks, telephones, and emails.

For a project to be successful, the implementing company’s executives need to be confident that the business can continue to design, sell, make, and ship product while its best people are partly or fully consumed on the ERP project.

This means that they’ll need to plan ahead. And, in today’s tight labor markets, they might need to plan well ahead. A good governance, resource, and teams plan should identify the core team members, their backups, and their backfills. It should also include a staffing plan to fill gaps with full-time, part-time, or temporary workers.

It’s vital that executives not only support these staffing moves, but also champion them. In general, you will only see business benefits from ERP if you treat it as a transformation opportunity – not a staffing hassle.

While pulling your highest performers off their day-to-day jobs can be a scary thought, you must have the confidence that business will continue as usual without them.

Problem #2: The wrong people are assigned to the core team

Many ERP projects fail to meet expectations because senior management don’t commit their best talent to the implementation.

erp implementation guide

In some cases, they assign whomever is available or, even worse, whomever is dispensable. The predictable result is a sub-optimally designed business, because the people responsible for transforming the business processes didn’t have the right knowledge and skills.

Since integrated ERP is about cross-functional business processing, the core team members need to understand their own department’s processes as well as how other departments operate. They also need to be out-of-the-box thinkers capable of defining new and better business processes.

When building teams, start by grading the skills of potential team member candidates. Evaluate their capabilities across multiple dimensions, including: functional departmental expertise, cross-functional business processing knowledge, fundamental ERP concepts, basic computing skills, documentation skills, communication skills, and adaptability to change.

When you complete your skills-gaps analysis, expect gaps. Nobody’s perfect.

Problem #3: The right people are on the team but they don’t have the right skills

Building on the previous point, the next step is to develop and execute a training plan. You want to make sure that your team members have the right mix of skills when they progress to the first remapping phase of your project.

It’s vital to develop and execute a customized ERP training plan that gives your core team the skills they need to succeed. At a minimum, your plan should include intensive customized training on fundamental ERP concepts and on the ERP software itself. The training should provide your core team members the foundation they need to re-engineer your business processes. In the long-run, these are the people who will become subject matter experts that others in your organization will turn to for guidance.

From a timing perspective, it’s never too soon to start the training phase. If you’re still running an ERP selection project, your evaluation committee will benefit from a better educated core team – one well versed in the software, processes, and best-practices they’re evaluating.

Problem #4: The project doesn’t have the right governance structure

To maximize your chances of implementation success (and to minimize probabilities of ERP implementation failure), your project governance structure should include the following teams:

  1. A steering committee made up of senior executives who will be made responsible for a) assuring successful project completion, and b) aligning the ERP implementation to your business’ strategy and goals.
  2. A core team who will re-engineer your business processes, test the ERP system, and train end users on how to use it.
  3. Project management who keep the project on time and on budget by managing tasks, deliverables, risk, and change.
  4. A solutions architect who is well-versed in enterprise-wide integrated business processing and systems, and should have a deep knowledge of most key business functions.

If you’re looking for help designing your teams, establishing governance structures, and developing training plans, we can help. These components are part of our globally recognized ERP implementation management methodology, Milestone Deliverables. Milestone Deliverables is published, used in more than 40 countries, and regularly relied upon to deliver and successfully rescue implementations of all shapes and sizes.

Want to avoid ERP implementation failure?

Download The CIO’s Guide to Preventing ERP Implementation Failure.

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