ERP Project Team: Anatomy of an ERP Team Part 3 – Business Processes & Functional Modules

There are likely as many structures for an ERP project team as there have been ERP implementations. In order to arrive at an intelligent structure for your team, you need to know, or estimate, answers to the following questions: (1) How many full time equivalents are assigned to the project? (2) How many ERP implementation consultants, if any, do we have? (3) How many, and which, business processes are being implemented? (4) What is the match up between skill sets and implementation scope?

In a perfect world, for a first time ERP implementation, each business process or module would have as a minimum, an implementation consultant, a subject matter expert from the business, and an IT professional, all full time for the duration of the ERP project. The consultant's role is to coach, tutor, manage risk and, as project anxiety inevitably mounts, to try to instill confidence that this will all work out in the end.The subject matter expert from the business serves as the process liason between the business and the ERP project team, explaining business practices, communicating decisions, and/or coordinating discussion forums around controversial subjects.The IT professional should become proficient with configuring the system, writing functional specs for development objects, and in general, preparing to support the system after implementation. It may not be financially possible to physically assign three FTEs to each module, but the roles mentioned above have to be fulfilled, and that becomes the ERP project manager's challenge in matching skill sets to work requirements.

Wanted: Project Manager / Juggler

The trade offs and intelligent judgments begin almost immediately after you have answered the first four questions. Not all business processes are created equal, and you begin reducing risk by assigning additional resources to the most strategic (or biggest) modules. If you have fewer FTEs assigned than you have modules, then you begin looking at how to scale back scope, or to consider how a single team could manage certain modules. When the ERP project starts, you might find yourself with five people assigned to Supply Chain Management and one person assigned to quality. Do not be afraid to rearrange resources if a functional team is falling behind. The entire project goes at exactly the same pace as the slowest team.

Finally, there is always the possibility of a chicken-or-egg scenario, particularly if your steering team is expecting to see your proposed structure before approving the number of FTEs. If you are responsible for making that recommendation, my advice is to be responsible, but do not be a martyr. For your first ERP implementation, ask for fifty percent more people than you think you could possibly need, which will only leave you twenty percent short as you understand how much work the project actually takes.

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Richard Barker

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Richard Barker