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Assigned to an ERP Implementation?

Congratulations on your assignment to the ERP Implementation Team.  Your experience on this team will either propel your career within the organization or represent the largest failure to date on your resume.  How do you tilt the cards toward a future with your current employer and help the organization achieve all its’ strategic glory?  In my experience you should know three things: how ERP implementations work as well as the art and science of both project management and change management.  Many articles try to answer this question quickly with glossy answers like “communication” or “teamwork”.  The truth is that considerable effort should be spent on preparing to be successful.  Think of this article as the “training camp” roadmap to your own personal ERP Superbowl.

Understand how ERP Implementations Work
ERP Implementations are significant.  They are complex.  They require that you understand the project from an organizational level over just a functional level.  This parallels the ability to see the forest and not just the trees.  I would highly recommend reading Enterprise Systems for Management 2nd Edition by Motiwalla and Thompson.  This book covers many aspects of the EPR project, including the ERP concept, technical aspects, development life cycle, implementation strategies, post-implementation operationalization, security and ethical issues.  This book will equip you with the knowledge and understanding you need to start tackling the entire project and not just your functional area.
Project Management
Understand the project management process your organization is following.  New team members (even experienced engineers and functional area experts) need to take time to understand the process.  The process exists to guide, direct, and help ensure success (at least statistically).  The process can also protect you.  Know the process and become an expert in Project Management as a science.  If your organization is lacking formal project management expertise for the complexities of the undertaking, select an implementation partner or independent project management resource to assist your organization.  There are many local Chapters of the Project Management Institute (PMI) that offer training, programs and conferences relating to project management.  Without a formal project management process guiding the effort, I would consider brushing up your resume.
Change Management
“Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated,” is probably not the message you want to send to the impacted employees of the organization (remember that ALL Employees will be impacted).  I believe managing change represents the single most important aspect of a successful ERP implementation.  John Kotter literally wrote the book on change management.  I suggest the short version, Our Iceberg is Melting – Changing and Succeeding Under any Conditions.  In addition, PMI recently developed a Practical Guide to Managing Change in Organizations.  This comprehensive guide provides a solid, detailed, approach for the entire implementation team.
Image @2013 PMI
Good Luck on your project!  Let me know what aspects you think are critical to ERP Success.
John M. Muraski MS, MBA, PMP

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