ERP Project Team: Anatomy of an ERP Team Part 1 – The Talent

Most organizational leaders contemplating an ERP implementation do not consciously consider that the legacy systems they are considering replacing were blueprinted by a wide variety of business thinkers over the course of many years. Failing to recognize how much collective thought has gone into developing and improving business software systems can sometimes blind an organization from seeing how critical it is to populate an ERP project team with the best possible talent. Too often, teams are assembled based on the criteria of being an A/A player (average and available) rather than a B/B (bold and brilliant). On the surface, it is easy to understand; the costs and headaches of taking star performers off their jobs for the duration of a ERP project are explicit; the exponentially higher costs and headaches of a mediocre implementation are hidden until it is too late, at which time team selection will be at the foot of a long list of things to blame.

Scout for Talent Throughout your Organization

Defining what the right kind of talent is for a project team is akin to being asked to spell the word two (too? to?); it all depends on context. For ease of discussion, rules of thumb have been established which can get you into trouble if taken too literally. One commonly heard rule is that an ERP project team should be manned by business people and not by IT people. While that is far superior to an ERP project team should be manned by IT people neither is as good as an ERP project team should be manned by people who understand how to use computers to make money. Because at the end of the day, the talent you want in your ERP project team should not just understand how things work, but more importantly, why they work. Further, they can articulate that understanding, and sell it to all levels of the organization. There will be people in the business side who are better at IT than many IT professionals, and there are people in IT who have more business acumen than most of the people in the organizations they are trying to support.A business person who has zero practical experience with what software can and cannot do will bring a project to its knees, insisting that the blueprint design include a CRM component which wasn't purchased and isn't in scope.Likewise an IT technocrat without a firm sense of business process will chase transactional automation to the risk of strategic failure.

Obviously, we don't live in a perfect world, and we do the very best we can with the resources available. However, spending the time to place the best possible talent on an ERP project team is one of the few investments an executive can make which will yield a phenomenal ROI without any corresponding assumption of risk.

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Richard Barker

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Richard Barker

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