Targeting a C-Level sponsor for your ERP project: four tips

Without an executive sponsor, your ERP project is doomed.  Recruiting this important person should be one of the first steps anyone takes in any large-scale software project, which certainly includes an ERP system.

1. Balance stakeholder needs

While it might be tempting to aim for an executive sponsor who will back you up completely, there are advantages to an executive with a balanced viewpoint.  You want to upgrade the capabilities of the business’ ERP system and, admit it, your view is biased.  Other members of your leadership have programs they want to implement.  They probably all have value-adding potential and the real aim is to improve the business, not to implement ERP.

Recommended reading: get C-level’s backing with this step-by-step guide to selling your ERP project to senior management

2. Make sure they can devote enough time to your project

Your executives are busy people.  The one who agrees to sponsor the ERP project must be able to devote substantial time to it.  If not, their value to the project will be severely limited.  It might be to your advantage to target the ‘second-best’ executive sponsor if that person is willing and able to put in the more time than your first choice.

3. Ensure your targeted exec is a social influencer

Any ERP project will cause change and many people resist change.  Even if you are the most charismatic change leader in your organization, look for a senior executive with the skills and ability to be a social influencer.  There are probably a few people who don’t appreciate your charisma and still others who want to see someone on mahogany row as part of the change.

4. Link your ERP ERP to business processes and goals

The ERP system you want competes with other projects for resources.  But ERP has a hidden advantage in that it is not only a goal in itself, but it has the capability to enhance the results of other projects.  Your executive sponsor should know what the goals for the current period are, but also they will also have participated in conversations preliminary to setting goals years into the future.  You want a sponsor who will use that background to help you choose the ERP that will bring long-term value in ways you might be unaware of.

The role of the executive sponsor

  • Provide clear direction and help keep the whole team moving consistently there
  • Link the project to the business’ overall strategy
  • Secure resources for the project.  You want a person with clout to get needed resources that are always in short supply
  • Ensure the project is well managed
  • Provide feedback to you and the project team
  • Be the project champion on the executive team

Look carefully at the executives in your organization. Choose the one you believe will provide the leadership you want and can devote enough time and resources to your ERP project. Whilst convincing them might take a lot of effort on your part, they will prove to be vital to your project’s success

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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

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Tom Miller

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