Asset Management

Seven steps for starting an effective ERP project

Companies need to carefully consider many aspects when starting an effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) project. Seven best practices are highlighted.
By Ultra Consultants January 24, 2019
Image courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE Media

When is the right time to consider what it takes for an effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) project kickoff? We’ve all heard the expression “don’t put the cart before the horse,” which warns us against placing tasks or items in the wrong order. It is much the same with an enterprise technology project.

When it comes time to thinking about the ERP project kickoff, teams must take into consideration the appropriate order of tasks and efforts. By approaching the evaluation process and ERP selection criteria in an informed manner, companies can ensure they make the right decisions to maintain or establish a competitive edge over other companies in the marketplace.

Checklist for an effective ERP project kickoff

Once the organization has worked through these proven methodologies and has selected an ERP system that can meet the performance expectations that stakeholders have identified, it’s time to consider a checklist for the ERP project kickoff. The following seven elements must be involved to drive an effective ERP project kickoff:

1. Start with the ERP project charter. 

The ERP project charter must be completed with manufacturer and vendor input and agreement. The charter must capture the full details of the project. One of the most important elements is the in-scope/out-of-scope section, which clearly articulates what elements are included in the ERP project, and what are out of scope. Another key area lists out the software and technical interfaces the project impacts. Deviating from the scope typically results in change orders with the vendor. The charter also includes a section that identifies typical workloads for the people involved with the project.

2. Involve all key stakeholders. 

Take the time to consider the full scope of key stakeholders within the organization and the extended enterprise. What functional areas need to be represented? This includes suppliers, partners, and others.

3. Set clear team roles and responsibilities. 

The ERP project kickoff must involve all key stakeholders who have an understanding of the ERP project team roles and responsibilities. Company leadership needs to understand these roles and the impact on team members’ work overall throughout implementation. This will allow management to adjust workloads because regular business must be accomplished while the project goes on.

4. Set the project organization.

Timelines, benchmarks, project interdependencies, strategies to get “unstuck” and more need to be reviewed and discussed during the ERP project kickoff.  By setting a clear organization, the company can fully understand what the project will entail and the investment in time that is required.

5. Build the pre-initiate checklist.

This document lists many key activities companies need to consider and perform as preparation before the main body of the implementation project team deploys. This list is designed to accelerate the ramp-up of all team members and enable key decisions in a deliberate and informed manner. This helps reduce cost, increase team efficiency, and help ensure the quality of work products and decisions.

Traditional projects tend to overlook these points or procrastinate their consideration until the last minute. This increases project risk (timeline, budget, and quality of deliverables) and reduces the likelihood of attaining the expected business benefits from the transformation journey.

6. Master data management.

After signing contracts with the vendor and before the project really gets started, which is typically 30 to 60 days or more, activities can then turn to master data management (MDM) to get all resources lined up and underway to manage the IT technical environment set up.

7. Build an education program.

From company-wide workshops to targeted education training sessions by functional area, planning for education must be woven into the ERP project kickoff meeting. ERP implementations go smoothly when there is an emphasis on educating the team about the ERP’s  capabilities. All parties must have a solid understanding of how the system works and what the new system will mean for their departments and the entire organization.

Ultra Consultants, a CFE Media content partner, is a leading independent research and enterprise solutions consulting firm serving the manufacturing and distribution industries throughout North America. Ultra delivers enterprise technology expertise and process management to drive business performance improvement for their clients. This article originally appeared on Ultra Consultants’ blog.

Want this article on your website? Click here to see how ContentStream® can make that happen.


Ultra Consultants
Author Bio: Ultra Consultants, a CFE Media content partner, is a leading independent research and enterprise solutions consulting firm serving the manufacturing and distribution industries throughout North America. Ultra delivers enterprise technology expertise and process management to drive business performance improvement for their clients.