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Who Should Be project Managers?
Thursday, April 18, 2013

ERP has grown into a major industry around the world and with this industry there are countless people who have set themselves up as expert consultants, all touting their expertise in implementing ERP systems. For the majority of these consultants they are employed by software companies who place them in companies they have sold their systems into. Many software companies like to present these consultants as senior, experienced people who they want to take on the role of project manager for the duration of the project.

With somewhere between 55-70-% of implementations ending up as problems, or poor end result success rates most consultants have more in common with failure than success. The tendency for consultants to find shortcomings with the implementing company on what they haven’t done, causing failures, is simply blame shifting for their own inability to recognise potential problems and act before they become actual problems.

The reality is external consultants appointed as project managers lack the authority to deal with the many non-system issues that are a company responsibility beyond the mandate of the project manager to influence but have a major impact on the overall project outcomes.

These external project managers provided by the software companies are only appointed after the contract for the software has been agreed which, in any event, is too late to impact issues that need to be dealt with long before the software is purchased.

The best project managers come from within the company, be a senior manager who has standing, can get things done and has influence with the CEO. This person should ideally come from the operational side of the business, not accounting or IT but someone who understands the operational side of the business.

The project manager should be supported by a project team who is represented from each department and cross functional task teams led by the relevant project team member to implement functions.

An ERP project is far broader than just the implementation of a computer system and the project management should begin at the very conceptual stage when an upgrade or acquisition is being considered.

We suggest you refer to the 26 steps which will clearly indicate the issues that must be considered up-front a long time before software is even considered.

Successful ERP projects are all about managing the myriad of issues that are systems and non-systems related to be successful. This cannot be done using external project managers hired after the software has been purchased.

The selection of the internal project, manager is an important decision and one that must be carefully considered given the large amount at stake if the project fails.