An example ERP implementation team structure for your project

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ERP implementation teams are almost as diverse as the 57 varieties of pickles available from the H.J. Heinz Company. Organizations implementing an ERP system can be large or small, highly structured or loosely in a matrix, public or private, and they might be anywhere around the globe. In one form or another, they all should have these elements: an executive steering group, a project management team, and a core implementation group.

Given the many complexities associated with ERP implementation, it is entirely logical that various management stakeholders should be present to ensure efforts are kept on the straight and narrow. While the organization of an ERP implementation team can range from informal, to bureaucratic in structure, the goals are always the same – get the ERP up and running efficiently; while marginalizing costs wherever possible.

Let’s consider how the ERP implementation team would look for a small or midsize business.

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Steering committee

This group of senior leaders define and manage the overarching goal-set for the ERP implementation. Committees of this type usually involve major enterprise or divisional heads that guide project planning.

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For example in the case of a multinational company, operating in numerous locations, a typical erp implementation steering committee roll-call would look like this:

  • CEO or EVP - headquarters
  • COO and/or CIO – headquarters
  • CFO – headquarters
  • VP/Director IT – headquarters
  • VP/Director Sales/Marketing – headquarters
  • VP/Director Production - headquarters
  • Director Finance - headquarters
  • Director Facilities – headquarters
  • EVP – first off-site division
  • EVP – second off-site division
  • Director Production – first off-site division
  • Director Production – second off-site division

Again, this committee scenario suggests a large-scale company, representing the operation and management of many international business elements. However a similar approach to can offer the same value to an ERP implementation team within a smaller companies as well.

Project management team

This group of operational leaders typically manage and direct the practical installation phase of an ERP implementation. This team usually involves direct stakeholders that act on major and subordinate elements to ensure all technical processes are defined and established congruent with a project’s operational schedule.

Again, to maintain an appropriate apples to apples comparison we are suggesting a multinational company, operating in numerous locations.

  • VP/Director IT - headquarters
  • VP/Director Production - headquarters
  • Director Finance - headquarters
  • Director Facilities – headquarters
  • EVP – first off-site division
  • EVP – second off-site division
  • Director IT – first off-site division
  • Director IT – second off-site division
  • Director Finance – first off-site division
  • Director Finance - second off-site division
  • Director Production – first off-site division
  • Director Production – second off-site division

Implementation groups

Finally, this additional group of stakeholders serves as a support team of line-oriented respondents, who get into the weeds of what/how/when each ERP module is to be applied. This team includes:

  • Major line of business constituents
  • Key external partners
  • Third-party partners (technical/business)
  • Necessary consultants

Once again, this project structure is a simple pro forma approach to the matter of a comprehensive ERP implementation team. Whether a company is large or small, this complex of “knowledge-engineers” must be utilized as a critical element of an implementation; to do otherwise can cause a company to find itself quickly adrift in a stormy sea, where rocks and shoals of cost-overruns are plentiful and can quickly drive an effort to the bottom in a heartbeat.

Steering group

This would include senior managers from functional groups affected by the ERP implementation and pertinent others from the organization.  They will define the scope of the project in terms of time and budget.  The president or CEO is one member as well as vice presidents. Lower level functional managers who understand the value to be found in ERP and who are probably being groomed for a future with the business would be invited.  The person who manages information systems would also be a member.  Many such midsize businesses are family-owned and we would find a sister or cousin as a member too.  Usually, we would expect some outsiders such as a CPA or attorney.  Since the ERP expertise in this group might be minimal we might add a leader from the ERP consulting company that will provide the software.

Project management team

This group reports directly to the steering group and ensures the project stays within time and budget constraints.  In a midsize or small organization, few of the members will be full time working on the ERP project so it is critical that team members can find and train replacements, at least for the duration of the project and devote sufficient time to the needs of the  project.  The project manager might be the only full-time member.  The project manager should usually be a person from the business so they stay within the company culture even though they might have less specific ERP expertise than a contract consultant.  There must be one or more members from information systems, possibly one for software and another for hardware and networking.  Most of the team members should be from functional departments within the business.

Core implementation group

These people take on the actual implementation work.  The team leader is in charge of communications with the project management team.  Other members will be functional experts in various disciplines.  Internal developers will work on the team to provide any necessary customization and to assist with the design of data conversion and migration processes.  Ad hoc members will be recruited to work on transactional testing.  Additional members who will provide training could be members too.

Guidelines

  • Choose people based on their competencies, not their job titles.
  • Empower the teams to make decisions.
  • Keep communications between all team levels active and smooth.  Ensure communications throughout the business too as all members of the enterprise will become users of the new ERP system and their voices are important.  That quiet guy in the corner might have the best idea no one on the teams would have thought of.

Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg / CC BY 2.0

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Rick Carlton

About the author…

Rick Carlton dba PRRACEwire, has worked as a tech journalist, writer, researcher, editor and publisher for many years. In addition to his editorial work, Rick has also served as a C-Level executive/consultant for a wide-range of private and public sector U.S. and International companies.

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Rick Carlton

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