Implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software system requires a tremendous amount of time and resources on your part that you may not have. Instead, consider using an independent project champion that extends your organization.
An ERP software project champion is an individual in an organization that has a complete understanding of the current state of the company operations and a clear vision of the future state. In addition, the project champion has the unconditional support and involvement of executive management. This team member can be a full-time employee or an outsider, such as an independent software consultant. One benefit of using an outsider is that they offer a fresh perspective. They are also unbiased and do not get distracted by other daily tasks that pop up in other day-to-day responsibilities in the way a traditional full-time employee would.
It can be very tempting to delegate a new ERP project to your Information Technology (IT) department. The IT department is the natural go-to when looking for a new ERP business software system since they are connected with all users of the systems and the shortcomings that are currently in place. However, the IT department should never be the owner or project champion of an ERP implementation. If the IT department takes the lead and ownership of the project, it becomes just another computer project, and it won't be easy to get buy-in from where it counts most; the users. The independent project champion works across all functional areas of the business.
In smaller companies with no dedicated internal IT resources, it is common to delegate the ERP implementation to senior staff members such as presidents, vice presidents, controllers, or CFOs. These groups of individuals are certainly needed for a successful implementation. Still, they may not have the availability and focus required for all the aspects necessary for the project. Therefore, an ERP software implementation has to be user-driven, and the project champion is the one who owns it and coordinates communication among all team members.
In an ERP software implementation, the project champion represents the IT department, management, users, and, most crucial, the customers. Pain points that your customers experience in dealings with your company must be considered in your ERP software selection process.
The project champion is engaged from the initial discovery through a Business Process Assessment (BPA), the software selection process, arranging for demos, system configuration, implementation, training, and go-live. Most believe that the go-live is the result of software implementation and are glad to be done, but in reality, it is just the beginning. The ERP implementation is not over until everyone uses it daily and significant business process improvement has been fully realized. The project champion's job is to stay the course and help the company realize the intended vision of the project itself.
Roger Pujol is a business improvement consultant and founder of Champion Business Solutions, LLC. He speaks and writes about encounters helping small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) improve their business operations.
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