1. Put together the right team. The ‘right team’ means putting the people on the project that you want to lead company-wide change. Stay away from project members that you know are anti-change. Instead, rely on your very best people, those that you are looking to take your company to the next level. You cannot put the second team on the job and expect great results. Allow your team to focus on the project and also remove the tendencies of addressing the day-to-day issues of their regular jobs.
2. Ensure that you have executive sponsorship for the project. It must be the TOP priority, as the new system will be the foundation for your company’s future growth. The executive steering committee should be briefed throughout the project. The executive committee will also serve as a conduit among all major stakeholders, as roles and missions of the organization may need to change to align with the project charter. Management must incentivize project team members. Putting in place a new system is a long and arduous task and incentives will help promote success and ensure all team members put forth their very best effort.
3. Establish Key Requirements. Make sure your team establishes clear requirements that are linked to your business goals. Those goals might, for example, include automating processes to save time and reduce costs, improving your ability to respond to customers and enabling better analysis across the business. Conduct a detailed business process review to document current process flows and clearly define the “to-be” condition.
4. Develop a detailed project plan including a project charter statement. Put together a detailed project plan that clearly shows all major milestones and deliverables. Revise the plan only if absolutely necessary—revisions will indicate to the team members that delays are acceptable. The best ERP implementations stick to the original project plan, go live on time and fine tune after. Post the project charter statement prominently and always refer back to it when the going gets tough.
5. Promote the project throughout the company. Continually remind everyone that it is the top priority. Everyone needs a clear understanding of why the company is implementing the ERP system, what the system will do, the benefits it will bring, and what to expect during each step of the ERP implementation process.
6. Managing expectations is integral to success. ERP implementation is a journey and, as a journey, never complete. On initial operating capability, you will still have areas that need further enhancement and even some processes that may not be as efficient on day one.
7. Set a schedule where the project team must support system testing [e.g., Tues – Friday 1PM – close of business]. Clearly communicate to all that these timeframes are blocked out for all project team members and NO exceptions are allowed.
8. Hold the functional sub-teams responsible for accurate data conversion. Don’t treat this as an IT task. The data conversion must convert clean and reliable data as this will be a huge must for end-user acceptance. Don’t under-estimate this task.
9. Put together a great training and education program for all proposed ERP users, again managing their expectations. Promote the new system during training. Keep everyone excited.
10. Celebrate along the way. For example, upon achieving critical milestones, take the team out to eat, or provide some sort of incentive. Celebrate small wins along the journey.