Diary of an ERP Project Manager: Day 1

Well, we formally kicked off the ERP project today, and I have to say, I thought it went pretty well. Marla, our consulting project lead, took the team through the overall ERP implementation process, and I gave a short talk about the importance of our work. In an effort to try to demonstrate solidarity with our implementation partners, I gave my part in “consult-ese”, using all of the important ERP acronyms and buzzwords. A brief excerpt: “ERP must improve ROI ASAP for our CEO and CFO so that EPS rises. As FTEs, we must use MRP, EDI, and CRM to transform our B2B processes to improve customer touch points, and optimize our GAAP EBIT”. Highly inspiring, I thought.

So the ERP team is assembled, and everybody is happy, motivated, and ready to get busy. Well, almost everybody. Our inventory person feels like she should sit with the supply chain team and not the purchasing team, and our warehouse person thinks he should sit with manufacturing and not sales. And one of the consultants says he gets claustrophobia in a cubicle. And one of the team leads wants to know why all of the other team leads are in the front of the row but him. And none of the consultants can get online because we can’t get their laptops through our firewall, so they all left to go back to the hotel to work. But in general things are great.

In the meantime, Marla covered the 1700 item detailed project plan and asked me to sign off on it. In fact, she asked me to sign off on a whole lot of “project control” documents, one of which was signing off on a document that verified that I had signed off on all of the other documents. Since it all smelled vaguely of intimate familiarity with litigation, I deferred any signatures pending better understanding. As we went through the project plan, there were many tasks I did not understand, but some that I did surprised me.

“How come you only have two weeks for material master data?” I asked. “It’s got to take longer than that.”

“Oh that’s just a placeholder until we understand scope better,” she replied.

“Why do you have an executive review scheduled every week?” I knew there was not a single executive review laid into anyone’s schedule yet.

“Another placeholder,” she agreed.

“How come weeks only seem to have four days?”

“We’re only here four days a week,” she replied.

I didn’t sign off on the project plan either.

Still, the project is no longer something that is going to happen in the future; it’s happening now. As they used to say at liftoff during the NASA space missions, “The clock is running!”

I’m pretty excited.

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