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Manufacturing ERP project management is a daunting task, no doubt about it. Most ERP-related projects are large, and even if they can be whittled down into bite-size chunks, small changes can be the catalyst of big problems somewhere down the line. Not only do project managers need to understand technical hardware and software issues, they also need to understand business and manufacturing processes and the people who drive them.
While each ERP implementation is unique, these best practices from Ray Wang, a partner for enterprise strategy at Altimeter Group will steer your ERP implementation in the right direction.
- Start with executive buy-in.
Organizations are based on hierarchal power structures, plain and simple. But while executive support seems obvious -- and it is -- the lack of solid leadership still starves otherwise good projects. "You've got to get the business units and IT teams to fund this," Wang said. "And someone needs to lead."
- Establish clear business goals.
The key question manufacturers should ask is, "What are we trying to achieve?" If an organization begins with the end in mind, the answers should have clear business value, which in turn should make it easier to define metrics that will help guide a project toward the desired result.
- Design for business flexibility.
While no two snowflakes are exactly the same -- and manufacturers are similarly unique -- there are still more similarities than differences. A common manufacturing ERP pitfall is to think customization is the key, when in fact customization can lead to overly complicated locks that make it difficult to open new doors in the future. So how does a manufacturer design for flexibility?
Keep things configurable, not customized.
- Establish clear program management.
Because ERP projects are complicated, many people in the organization must work together to meet timelines and achieve goals. Consequently, someone needs to be specifically in charge overall, with additional stakeholders set up within appropriate departments and incentives for success aligned with the project goals.
- Invest in planning and end user change management.
After the technology is installed and configured, manufacturers are still ending their projects too soon. This leads to situations where expensive solutions are not adopted and used to their full potential. Don't leave training as an afterthought. Change management and transformation requires time and persistent coaching.
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About the author: Chris Maxcer is a freelance writer.