10 Tips to Hiring a Great ERP Project Manager

An appropriate advertisement for an ERP project manager might read: “Qualified candidate is ideally the product of Immaculate Conception; can walk on water; can feed ERP implementation team with a basket of bread and a couple of fish; can effectively cultivate disciples; and is willing to be crucified at go-live.”

The point is not to be flippant about religion, but to stress that anyone who can excel in a first-time role as an ERP project manager is probably closer to a deity than a human. The scope, the issues, the political conflicts, and the technology challenges of an ERP implementation occur on a scale and in a timeframe that no one has previously experienced. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a solid candidate, who learns quickly, and manages a successful implementation. Here are the attributes you are looking for in an ERP project manager, roughly in order of importance.

1. The most important characteristic for an ERP project manager to possess is a refusal to fail. This is not an offhand cliché – it is a literal behavioral description.

2. A project manager must be able to staff and develop a high performance team.

3. A project manager should be able to communicate effectively to - and in the language of - every level in the organization from C-level to shop floor employee.

4. A PM needs the ability to exercise unemotional business judgment. Every decision must have a compelling business reason that is grounded in organizational success.

5. A project manager must be able to build consensus. Consensus-building should never be confused with compromising. Compromises results in a solution no one likes; consensus results in the answer everyone recognizes as the best possible.

6. A PM should have as broad of an understanding of how different functional areas interact as possible.

7. An ERP project manager should know how to use computers to make money, and have a track record of being a competent adopter of systems.

8. A project manager should be able to communicate a vision. Ideally, a project manager can understand the vision of organizational leadership and translate it into an appropriate ERP vision.

9. An ERP project manager should appreciate the realities of corporate politics. An effective PM can be neither a sycophant nor a rebel.

10. Project managers must be able to admit publicly that they were wrong. They will make mistakes. Admitting that and moving on will teach other team members to do the same.

If you get all, or most of these things in an project manager, the probability of your ERP project’s success is dramatically increased. If you compare these attributes to the common lists of ERP failure risks, you find that these traits are generally required in order to combat the most common risks.

author image
Richard Barker

About the author…

author image
Richard Barker