IT Challenge: Assembling an ERP upgrade project dream team

In this IT Challenge of the Month, we'll find out how to create the ideal ERP upgrade project team, and learn which departments should be involved.

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The SearchManufacturingERP.com IT Challenge of the Month for February 2011 is:

My company is planning to upgrade from an outdated ERP system to a new ERP system. We’re in the process of creating our ERP upgrade management team. Are there any departments that absolutely must be involved in the upgrade process? Who would be on an ERP upgrade “dream team?”

Do you have a solution to this challenge? Have you encountered a similar issue at your business? If so, please contact the SearchManufacturingERP.com editors and share your suggestions or experiences. 

IT Challenge respondents will receive a free copy of a new book from SAP Press.

And be sure to check back here all this month -- we'll be posting solutions from experts and readers as we receive them.

From ERP and manufacturing industry expert Steve Phillips:

Start with the executive steering team (EST). This team consists of the highest-level senior managers who “own” the departments impacted by the ERP implementation. The executive sponsor is the ultimate process (and project) owner as defined by the project scope, usually the CEO or a vice president. Others on the EST include the CIO, consulting firm implementation partner, and lower-level managers with direct authority over the key departments or locations within the project scope (e.g., a plant manager or customer-service manager). The idea is to get all key decision-makers in the same room to hear the same thing.

The project management team reports to the EST. There is one project manager, who should be a manager from inside the company. It is best if the project manager is not from the IT department. The consulting project manager, IT project lead, and site managers (on a multi-site project) all report to the project manager. You do not want IT or consultants to be perceived as driving the project. In addition, each site manager can handle the coordination required for their site.

The core team consists of teams representing each application area, which is usually a software module. The team leads report to the project manager. As a team lead, I always recommend that there be a good functional manager who directly supervises end users. This gets that manager in the game and makes resource commitments much easier to sustain because the project becomes a personal priority. The application consultant and functional analyst from the user area report to the team lead. An IT support person -- typically an internal application developer -- should also be assigned to each team. Eventually, there will be interfaces, conversions, and maybe modifications to write. IT usually has a lot of knowledge about current systems and the business itself. For multi-site projects, a site coordinator should report to each application area team. This links each site at both the project management and application levels.

Finally, formally recognize the key end users and subject matter experts who are expected to play important supporting roles to the core team and indicate them in a separate box in the project organization chart.

This was first published in February 2011

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