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Kicking Off an ERP Project

Dave Balser
March 6, 2019 | 10:30 AM

begin an erp projectThe way you begin an ERP project sets the tone for the entire undertaking. Whether it’s an implementation, an upgrade, or a Business Process Review, starting on the right foot can help ensure the success of the project. So, where do you begin? 

First things first, you should bring on a team who can help you navigate this project. You typically hire a team based on their experience and expertise, but who are the individuals involved, and where does your team fit in? Let’s meet your project team.

The Client Side

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is made up of executives and senior managers from key business units and departments involved in the project. The Committee initially builds consensus throughout the organization and then, once the project is underway, ensures that the project continues to meet the set vision, goals, and objectives.

Executive Sponsor

This is an executive-level team member who has the ultimate authority over the project. They allocate funding, fulfill client-side project resources, and provide executive-level direction when needed. The Executive Sponsor is the vocal and visible champion of the project both within the organization and for the consulting team. 

Project Sponsor

The Project Sponsor is ultimately responsible for the success of the project. They have knowledge of the internal business case and key objectives of the project. They will receive regular project updates, provide clarity to the project vision, offer leadership, and remove business-related barriers to the progress of the project. Depending on the size of the project, the Project Sponsor and the Executive Sponsor roles can be filled by the same person. 

Project Manager

Depending on the size of the project and the client’s project team, there may be a Project Manager on the client side as well as on the consulting side. The Project Manager acts as the main point of contact for managing the project deliverables, budget, and timeline. They are responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the project and are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the project is delivered on budget, on schedule, and within scope. 

Stakeholders

As with any business endeavor, these are the people that have an interest in the outcome of the project. While they are typically client team members, some projects can include Stakeholders who are external to the company, including investors, customers, and suppliers.

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

SMEs are client team members who participate in defining requirements for the project. They usually have expert knowledge of a specific function, technology, or business process. Typically, the needed Subject Matter Experts include the System Manager, functional leads and users in Accounting, Customer Service, and Procurement, and internal IT Business Analysts.

The Consultant Side

Managing Director

This executive-level person on the consultant side is responsible for managing the customer relationship as a whole across the entire project. They work directly with the client’s executive team to ensure that all of the commitments made by both the Consultant Team and the Client Team are completed.

Project Manager

The Project Manager acts as the main point of contact for managing the project deliverables, budget, and timeline. The Project Manager also helps to mitigate risk and ensure that the client’s requirements are met by managing the project deliverables, budget, and timeline.

Project Team

The Project Team is made up of those individuals who are responsible for planning and executing the project. They can be full- or part-time, technical or functional. The size of the Project Team varies with the complexity or size of a project. Project Team Members are responsible for completing tasks related to their expertise as well as completing deliverables according to the project timeline.

Generally, the Functional team is comprised of team leads that closely align with the Client’s Subject Matter experts, including:

  • Finance and Accounting
  • Sales Order Processing and Customer Service
  • Procurement and Inventory
  • Manufacturing and Shop Floor

We have the major players identified, so what’s next? Although everyone involved may be chomping at the bit to dig into the dirty work, the first step of any project this complicated should be creating a project charter.

Establishing a Project Charter

A project charter serves as an internal document and contract for the project team. It lays out the scope and objectives of the project, and the roles and responsibilities of the project team members. Going through the process of creating the project charter can often be the most important part of a successful project management process.

Briteskies project charters are generally comprised of the following sections:

  • Statement of Need
  • Benefits
  • Critical Success Factors
  • Measures of Success
  • Approach
  • Stakeholders and Customers
  • Project Scope
  • Assumptions, Constraints, and Dependencies
  • Project Team Structure
  • Communication Plan
  • Project References
  • Approval

The primary purpose of the charter is to get agreement on all of these aspects of the project before the project begins. The process of creating a charter is the mechanism that facilitates this agreement. Through the project lifecycle, the charter becomes the reference document for the project manager, stakeholders, and everyone else impacted by the project as it states what was agreed upon and how it will be accomplished. 

Here are some high-level details about each section of a Project Charter.

Statement of Need

The project charter begins with a Statement of Need. This brief section highlights the general goals of the project and, most importantly, why the project is happening. Whether it is a software upgrade or complete replatform, the Statement of Need gives the “what” and “why” of the project.

Benefits

This section of the project charter furthers the explanation of the “why” of the project. What will happen and how will it improve the company? It is a statement of the business benefits that correlates to the business case that was made for the approval of the project. It gives a more concrete look at the results of the project and the advances that will be gained.

Critical Success Factors

As the name suggests, this section outlines which aspects of the project are crucial for success. It these select factors are not achieved, the project timeline or budget will surely suffer.

Measures of Success

The metrics included in this section are those that will determine whether or not the project is successful, and should be directly impacted by the aforementioned Critical Success Factors. These are the specific measures by which the project team and the project itself will be evaluated. 

Approach

In this section of the project charter, we start getting into the “how” of the project. How is the project going to be implemented to address the Statement of Need, Critical Success Factors and Measures of Success? This section is one of the most important to discuss with all parties involved so as to ensure everyone is on the same page with the project implementation strategy and methodology.  

Stakeholders and Customers

This lists those outside of the consulting team who are involved and impacted by the project. It serves as the list of those to whom the project team is accountable. If the project consists of multiple phases, it is important to indicate who is affected by which phase. 

Project Scope

Project Scope is a more detailed section of the charter. It is often broken into three subsections: Scope, Deliverables and Out of Scope. The Project Scope provides boundaries for the work, which helps maintain focus and avoid scope creep. This is another aspect that helps to meet timeframe goals. The scope statement in the charter is the reference point used by the project manager to say "yes" or "no" to various requests throughout the process. 

Assumptions, Constraints, and Dependencies

This section outlines a few crucial parts of the project. The first, Assumptions, lists which responsibilities each party will oversee; such as who is paying for what and which members of the customer’s staff will be available. The Constraints and Dependencies section lays out things that may negatively affect the project and that need to be taken into consideration. This section also includes a list of Risks, which are another important list for all parties to be aware of as the project begins so that proper mitigation strategies can be discussed ahead of time. 

Project Team Structure

In this section of the charter, the roles of each member of the project team are assigned and explained. Occasionally categorized by customer or development team, this outlines the role, the person assigned to it, and the responsibilities of that role. This eliminates any confusion as to who is responsible for which aspect of the project, and helps ease communication when questions arise.

Communication Plan

The Communication Plan outlines when and how The Customer and the development team will talk to each other as well as the larger customer community. Whether that is through weekly, optional meetings, mandatory daily status updates, or anything in between, depends on the project and the teams involved. The Communication Plan should come from the larger change management process to ensure that everyone impacted by the project receives regular updates. 

Project References

This is usually just a link out to a collaborative website that is assigned to this project specifically.

Approval

After all of the aforementioned regulations and specifics have been determined and agreed upon, we come to the Approval. This section gives a few statements saying that all involved parties agree with the overall Project Charter and is signed by the necessary parties, just like any other binding agreement.

What’s Next?

With all of the roles and project details agreed upon, your team can get to work on your ERP project!

While it may seem simple seeing it all laid out like this, we can’t stress enough how important it is to bring on a qualified partner to help you through an ERP project. Are you ready to get started? Contact our team.

Need More Information? Contact Us.

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