When a company implements an ERP system, one of the most important things to do is assign an in-house project leader. It’s common for companies to use the service provider as a consultant, which isn’t bad, but that consultant should always work with a liaison from within the company purchasing the software – someone with the authority to make decisions and guide internal employees through the process. Implementations are neither fast nor easy, so to work side by side with a consultant, the internal project leader must also have time available to devote to the task.
Once you have the right person, it’s important to avoid these common project management mistakes:
The project leader isn’t sufficiently empowered.
The CEO/C-level employees must support both the project and the project leader and make it very clear to all employees by having a project kickoff meeting. Having the high-level employees behind the project will make it easier for the project leader to take control and gain cooperation from other employees.
The project team doesn’t have the right members.
We’ve been talking about a project leader, but the project leader must have a team behind them. There’s no way for an internal employee, even with a consultant’s help, to pull this implementation off. Therefore, it’s vital to choose team members with time to devote to the project, an ability to work together and make decisions, and with expertise in their area to initiate positive goal setting. (We recommend a diverse selection of people from varying departments.)
Roles and responsibilities are unclear.
Not everyone can do everything, and everyone must do something. The project manager should make it crystal clear what each team member’s role is – what they’re expected to do, when they should do it, guidance for doing it if necessary, etc. They should also help team members see how their part weaves together as part of the whole.
Users aren’t accountable.
It’s also the project manager’s responsibility to have a process for handling team members who don’t meet their goals. When everyone has a clear picture of their responsibilities, something needs to happen when team members don’t step up. The project leader must establish measures to determine when team members don’t deliver and then have a system to remedy such situations.
The project leader only connects with their team during project meetings.
During an implementation, a team might choose to meet once week, but the project manager should be touching base with individual team members more frequently; this allows individuals to relay information from their department and privately air concerns, improving morale and preventing the weekly meetings from being derailed.
Not everyone is on the same page.
The CEO/managers, consultant, project manager, and team members will create an implementation schedule; when the project begins, they will immediately deviate from that schedule. It’s nearly impossible to follow an implementation schedule to the letter, and you must know that to prevent frustration and a feeling of failure. When changes occur, make sure everyone is “in the know” – physically update the calendar, send out emails, etc. to make sure no one is surprised at the schedule adjustment.
The project is over-managed through email, spreadsheets, or project-planning tools.
The consultant often has a tool for working through implementations, and the project leader and team members must learn how to use it. Once they do, they shouldn’t use anything else – no schedule changes via email, no important documents created and saved on local hard drives, no spreadsheet creation, etc.
There’s a lack of communication.
As previously mentioned, the project leader should be communicating with team members regularly, the team itself should be meeting regularly, any information about the project must be conveyed promptly and to the right people, etc. This hearkens back to “not everyone is on the same page.” Good communication prevents errors, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, delayed project adjustments, and more. To facilitate the process of good communication, the project manager should set guidelines about how communication should take place.
If you aren’t doing these things, you’re doing it right!
We know new software implementations aren’t easy – there are so many variables to consider that it’s tough for a company to handle without the expertise of a qualified reseller. Please contact Southeast Computer Solutions to find out how we can help you.