As project teams work to plan and execute initiatives, the general mindset is that everyone is working toward the same set of goals. However, that’s not always the reality. In particular, when it comes to high-visibility, high-risk, or strategically important projects like ERP implementations, teams may encounter conflicting interests between the individual stakeholder groups or even across small factions within those groups.
These disparities can manifest in several ways. People involved in the funding approval process might push their group’s requests through faster than others, for example, or multiple end user groups may ask that their preferred software customizations be placed at the top of the priority list. Having a workable strategy to identify and respond to potential conflicts, plus figure out how (or if) to balance and address them, is key to ensuring your ERP implementation remains on time and on budget. It’s also vital in maintaining stakeholder buy-in and support.
If your project team is challenged to spot and resolve conflicting interests, consider these areas where conflicts are likely to spring up and some strategies to prevent them from derailing your ERP implementation project.
Managing resource allocations can be particularly problematic if a portion of your stakeholder base is responsible for approving resource requests. Other user groups may express concern that resource allocations could be unfairly influenced by these approvers, and it’s something you need to be aware of as you allocate funding and personnel. To avoid conflicts, it may be prudent to revise the approval process for the ERP project. That could involve simply bringing in additional approvers from other stakeholder groups to balance things out, or transitioning approval authority to a department with only minimal involvement in the project.
Timeline development and scheduling
In an ERP implementation project, the flow of work usually follows a common path. However, you may find that individual stakeholder groups try to influence the schedule in a way that gets their activities done sooner. As you develop the project timeline, your team should be mindful of potential disagreements around scheduling. You can more easily harmonize conflicting interests when you maintain a focus on creating a project timeline geared toward cost optimization, minimizing work disruptions, and meeting any hard deadlines.
The ability to begin using the new system—for testing, data uploads, and day-to-day activities—is sometimes a point of conflict among stakeholders. Your end users may want to begin working with the new ERP platform early so they’re comfortable with their updated workflows once the cutover day rolls around. But your software developers may not want to open the system to general use until testing and customization are complete. Harmonizing everyone’s access can be a tricky balancing act. Begin by working with each stakeholder group to ensure you fully understand their requests and requirements for getting into the new system. It may also be helpful to bring a few user groups together so they can openly discuss why and when they want to access the ERP platform, and evaluate where pushback to those requests may exist. A transparent process to work through the conflicts will help everyone be comfortable with the outcome, even if they don’t get everything they want.
You want all stakeholder groups on the same page, not just before your project launches but also as the ERP implementation moves through its lifecycle. Maintaining a mutual understanding of the initiative’s objectives, its timeline, and its resource allocations will smooth out potential disagreements along the way. Partnering with a skilled facilitator can also help your project team gain consensus on key elements of the project plan.