Do you have a designated Project Manager?
Nearly all ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) vendors employ a number of project managers (PMs) to ensure that implementations go smoothly and end in success. Often, because of this, it doesn’t occur to the company implementing an ERP to consider hiring a project manager of their own. However, just as there are benefits to having a PM on the vendor side, there are many benefits to utilizing a PM internally on the implementing company’s end as well.
Consultant or Employee? That is the Question.
There is more than one school of thought regarding the best way to handle filling the role of Project Manager when implementing an ERP. Some would say that bringing in an external consultant who specializes in ERP implementation is the best and only way to effectively manage the process. Others would rather pull an internal resource into the role for any number of reasons, including legacy knowledge of the company and its processes, cost efficiency, and/or the overall size of the company/total number of employees.
In our eyes, there is no ideal way to handle filling a PM role when implementing an ERP. What matters most is that the company and internal ERP team is comfortable working with whoever ends up in the role—whether they are internal or external—that the individual taking on the PM responsibilities has previous experience in project management, and that they are a dedicated resource for the length of the project.
Therefore, if no one has true PM experience within the company, it is usually best to hire a consultant to oversee the process. But if the company is large or diverse enough to have project managers on staff for various purposes, there is no good reason why that strategy wouldn’t work just as well. This is especially true if they have exposure to some of the pain points that have led to the purchase of an ERP system in the first place.
Qualities and Qualifications of a Project Manager
While it is likely obvious that project managers should be someone who is well-organized, there are many other factors to consider when bringing on a dedicated PM resource. Other desirable qualities include project management-specific work experience; excellent communication skills; natural ability to lead; an understanding of the needs of the company as well as various ERP processes; respect for the company and its culture; and the inner drive to move the implementation forward to successful completion without external motivators and supervision.
Benefits of a Dedicated Project Manager for ERP Implementation
Client-side PMs have a long list of duties, which include, but are not limited to, project planning; organization of implementation team roles and responsibilities; scheduling; definition of reporting requirements; steering committee communication; budgeting; and ERP data conversion plans. With this many tasks to handle, there are more than a few benefits to bringing on a dedicated company-side PM, but most important may be the way in which it enables smooth, timely and clear communication between vendor and client.
Client-Side Project Managers for ERP Implementation Success
Ultimately, the client-side and vendor-side PM will work together through the entire process to ensure the ERP implementation stays on track, and that the ERP ultimately addresses all of the agreed-upon parameters of the client. Having a dedicated PM on both sides ultimately means fewer delays due to miscommunications, and an overall faster, more streamlined implementation.