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.
First Things First
For most manufacturing and distribution organizations, when it comes time to thinking about the ERP project kickoff, teams must take into consideration the appropriate order of tasks and efforts.
So before “putting the cart before the horse,” as an ERP consulting firm we guide companies to understand the proven methodizes related to business process improvement, enterprise technology selection, organizational change management, and other key phases before the ERP project kickoff in advance of enterprise software implementation.
Read why it is critical to evaluate your current state before even considering a selection project.
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 then time to consider a checklist for the ERP project kickoff.
Shared here as thought-starters, the following 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 thoroughly lists out the software and technical interfaces impacted by the project. Deviation from scope typically results in change orders with the vendor. The charter includes a section that identifies typical workloads for the folks involved with the project. We can’t emphasize the importance of a charter – learn more about the ERP implementation charter to fully understand its significance.
2 – Involve All Key Stakeholders: In advance of the ERP project kickoff, 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, including suppliers, partners, and others?
To identify the key stakeholders, listen to an informative podcast about ERP stakeholders in this informative podcast hosted by Ultra’s founder and CEO Jeff Carr.
3 – Set Clear Team Roles, 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 day throughout implementation so that workloads can be adjusted because regular business must still 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 that Ultra Consultants advises to consider and perform as preparation before the main body of the implementation project team deploys.
This list is offered to accelerate the ramp-up of all team members and enable key decisions in a deliberate and informed manner – thus reducing cost, increasing team efficiency, and ensuring the quality of work products and decisions.
Based on our experience, traditional projects tend to overlook these points or procrastinate their consideration until the last minute – typically, too late in the project. This increases project risk (timeline, budget, and quality of deliverables) and reduces the likelihood of attaining the expected business benefits from the transformation journey. Most issues on this checklist are on the project critical path; our experiences teach us that ignoring them or pushing them later into the project may compromise the implementation.
6 – Master Data Management: After signing contracts with the vendor and before the project really gets started, which is typically 30 – 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.
We advise our clients to fully understand ERP and master data management, thus offered here is a starting point for the activities related to this effort:
- Conduct MDM Core Team Initial Workshop
- Develop MDM governance process
- Data Profiling (to be done for each data domain)
- Determine Data Conversion Approach
- Identify Opportunities for Structuring Data (to be done for each data domain)
- Data Cleanup, Data Structuring, and Data Conversions (to be done for each data domain)
7 – Build out 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. It’s been our experience that ERP implementations go more smoothly when there is an emphasis on educating the team about the capabilities of the new ERP system features and functions. All parties must have a solid foundation of how the system works and what the new system will mean for their departments and the entire organization -from the functional areas to leadership and change management
We share the importance of education during the ERP implementation timeline in a previous blog post. and noted are the tasks involved in an education curriculum.
Thinking an ERP Project Kickoff? Learn More
We’ve just skimmed the surface on what it takes for an effective ERP project kickoff.
As an independent ERP consultant firm, Ultra’s mission is to help manufacturers and distributors achieve the full advantage of enterprise technology tools and processes. Our goal is to unleash your business performance potential and maximize the benefits of your investment.
To learn more about how Ultra can add value to your company during ERP project kickoff and beyond, contact us today.