How to select the perfect ERP project manager

There is no absolute right answer to the question of how to select a good ERP project manager.  Your choice will likely be a compromise between what you wish for against what is available at the time for your choice.  Here are some important considerations.

Look for experience managing large projects

In any case, your ultimate goal is a successful conclusion of your ERP selection and implementation.  That success is largely against standards you define for your particular organization that are both quantitative and qualitative.

Ideally your ERP project manager has been involved in many large projects and has served in a leadership role in some of them.  Some of those projects should have been ERP projects too.  A good track record of successful completion of those project isn’t necessary as long as the manager has learned from both the successes and other less-than-successful results.

Get advice on project managing an ERP implementation with our step-by-step guide to ERP implementation success

A person with specific ERP training of some kind is also a good target.  Many large ERP system providers offer training courses.  A certification in project management such as PMP or Project Management Professional is also desirable.

Ensure your ERP project manager is a natural leader

Your ERP project manager must be a leader.  People follow leaders willingly, not because they must.  Your project manager should be calm.  There will be a lot of stress during the project and they should be able to remain calm as well as maintain calm among the troops.  Your ERP project manager must be able to work well with others.  Your project manager must have great skills to listen.  Users from around the enterprise will have their own requirements and concerns and they must be heard.

They must communicate ideas effectively

Your ERP project manager must be a very good communicator.  Communication means that the manager’s message is heard and that the manager receives messages from others.  Your project manager should be resourceful.  Often the path they must take is not well-marked and the manager should be able to get help when needed and find hidden resources to find and stay on that path.  

Your project manager should also have empathy.  They really need to understand and feel what another is trying to say and why they are trying.  Your project manager will not likely achieve all the users want but must understand why they want it.  On a related note, your project manager should be likeable. The manager doesn’t have to be best friends with the users and other managers and will make some people unhappy, but people should generally like to be around the project manager.

Your project manager should have political clout.  There will be differing opinions and groups will gather around opposing viewpoints.  Your project manager should be able to find workable positions that make all sides satisfied.

This might be the most important point.  Your project manager should only have one job.  Managing an ERP project is too big to accomplish well in one’s spare time.  And who among us has spare time anyway?

Your selection can come from inside or outside.  They can be an employee or a consultant. Just be sure they have the right qualifications to see your ERP project through successfully

author image
Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

author image
Tom Miller

Featured white papers

Related articles