ERP system implementations are large-scale and complex projects, and numerous stakeholders are involved in making these efforts a success. In most cases, internal team members work alongside a number of outside partners to execute the project. The technology providers and integration vendors participating in your ERP initiative will help to design, install, connect, test, and customize the system and its components.
Much of the focus in these multi-step, cross-functional projects centers on pulling necessary information from the vendors into the project planning process. That includes time windows for testing software and cutover dates to move workloads to the new system. However, there are also data points that implementation partners need from the project team, and they’re just as important to project success.
One of the first discussion points your external collaborators are likely to broach is the level of technical expertise available within your organization to support the project. This is a critical piece of information, because it’s likely that one or more vendors will need to assign personnel to plug any skill or knowledge gaps. The right expertise is key to executing any technology project, so your team needs to be candid about what you can provide and what you can’t.
A thorough and objective assessment conducted at the start of the project planning phase will help you gauge your team’s capabilities and coordinate resources most effectively.
Because ERP platforms often function as a hub of activity and information flows within the organization, there are likely several existing solutions that should connect to the ERP to ensure robust data sharing and efficient workflows. A full accounting of the system integrations required to make the ERP platform suit your business needs provides a roadmap for vendors to build out the connections necessary to make everything work as expected.
Collaborate with the cross-functional teams in your company to review workflows and list out all that they envision spanning across multiple systems, or that will need to follow new frameworks once the ERP goes live.
Your outside partners will also expect clear directions on the software customizations your organization wants to make to either the new ERP system or any existing solutions that will connect to it. Different business groups may require changes in the structure of specific workflows, for example, or you may need to add new functionality to the ERP to support actions and integrations that aren’t included in the base software. Customizations and other development work can sometimes be quite intricate, and it’s possible that a requested modification has downstream effects that need to be assessed and addressed.
Developing a comprehensive project scope is the first step in determining the different customizations needed. This exercise will also help to uncover how changes to the ERP system may influence everything from user training to additional integration requirements.
For any activities your internal staff will carry out, the vendors participating in the ERP implementation need to understand when those tasks will occur and how long they’ll take to complete. Providing accurate task duration estimates for internal activities enables your project partners to more accurately and efficiently coordinate their own work. When everyone has visibility into expected timeframes to begin new activities, to hand off key tasks, and to reach milestone dates, all stakeholders are better equipped to ensure their activities align with the master schedule.
Keeping everyone moving along the same path is a core element of ERP implementation project success. The right project management methodology—combined with proven tools, techniques, and expertise—empowers stakeholders with a single source of truth to guide their decision making, resource allocations, and activity coordination.