When an ERP implementation starts heading south, everyone starts to point fingers in one direction or another, and usually it’s towards the vendor. Core teams march with torches and pitchforks screaming that the vendor is mismanaging their project and nobody internally takes responsibility.

In a recent post, we talked about how clients hold ultimate responsibility for the success of an ERP implementation, and ERP Project Management is a key area of client responsibility. There is a common misconception that the vendor provides the Project Manager (PM) for an implementation. While they do need to provide project management overseeing the software integration, the vendor or SI is NOT responsible for the overall program control and management.

The Role of the ERP Project Manager

That role needs to be filled on the client side, either by an internal PM or an external consultant, ideally both. We call this role “Program Manager/PM.”

That role of ERP program manager is essential to the success of your project. That individual spearheads all activity and communication between the vendor and client teams, ensures that resource schedules track to project tasks and makes sure that timelines and budget stay aligned. This is typically one of the things that ERP systems integrators don’t do well, so it is an important role to fill.

One method that can be used to identify project risk before it’s too late is to evaluate the activity of the program manager. An ERP implementation PM can be difficult to monitor as they are the one responsible for making everything happen and have a better view of activity than anyone else, however there are 3 telltale signs that can be fairly easily tracked:

Lack of Documentation

Documentation is often overlooked as an implementation gets underway, yet is the first thing asked for when budgets or timelines get extended or decisions need to be made. Poor project managers are notorious for overlooking or avoiding comprehensive project documentation that is critical in adjusting scope and in completing the implementation.

The System Integrator will need to be responsible for a large percentage of documentation, but the program manager needs to validate that deliverables are being created. The best perspective on defining necessary documentation is to imagine if a new project manager were to come on board, how quickly could he or she get up to speed and what documentation would be needed.

Lack of Project Reporting and Metrics

Executive teams need to know that budgets, timelines and resource utilization are on track, and need to know as soon as potential risks surface. If these metrics are not being tracked properly, then it is likely that the damage will be done before it is recognized. Imagine going into surgery without tracking vitals; the surgeon needs to see changes in blood pressure and heart rate so adjustments can be made.

This all begins with defining a realistic SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation budget. It is important to not let your Make sure that your PM is tracking and reporting, and make sure that you have visibility on these metrics.

Lack of Updates and Project Status Meetings

Everyone is busy and we all have too much to do, and this is no different for key stakeholders of an ERP implementation. It should not be the responsibility of the executives or other stakeholders to be asking for updates, and they should know how the implementation is going at any given time. It is the job of the PM to be offering these updates on a regular basis and bringing any issues into discussion. If there are not regularly scheduled core team and executive meetings, chances are your program manager is slacking.

What to Do When Your ERP Project Manager is Failing?

So, the question then becomes, “what to do when your PM is failing?” Not to fear, this is actually quite common, and we help implementing organizations with this scenario frequently.

In most cases we find that the PM is not unqualified – just overwhelmed – and we can help position a support structure to allow the PM to do what needs to be done. In some cases, the PM is simply not right for the position and we help with project team and organizational re-design. In either case, fixing a faulty or overwhelmed PM will be critical to ERP implementation success.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you get a more sustainable internal ERP project management structure in place. We are happy to help by being a sounding board as you continue your journey!

Brian Potts

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