No company approaching a global ERP systems rollout wants to consider the possibility of failure. Unfortunately, it’s very common in major cross-functional undertakings. When you are dealing with multiple layers of people, processes, and technology that span across different geographies, all happening amidst your day-to-day operations – the risks are high. But, they are preventable with smart planning.
Read this blog post for 8 tips on how to plan for a successful global systems integration.
Most businesses tend to blame ERP failure on the software implemented. The truth is, failure is more often attributed to organizational factors, including lack of executive sponsorship and poorly assembled teams. Global ERP rollouts are a meticulous operation that requires control and visibility over every task. In our experience of working on complex, international enterprise projects, the strength of a global ERP rollout depends on the team. Centralized, global project management is essential to providing support and governance that will enable your team to perform and drive implementation success.
Build a Global ERP Project Team at the Client and Partner Level
Before we jump into the roles and responsibilities required to build a strong global ERP project team, we want to explain an important process in the planning stages: lobbying. To build an effective global team, you need to have a deep understanding of the key stakeholders on both the client and partner teams. During the lobbying process, we meet and get to know all the different users in an organization and work to uncover important skills and strengths for the project. This will help identify who the right people are for your team and what gaps you will need to fill to complete the project on time and budget.
Global ERP rollouts are complex, and every member of your delivery team is strategically chosen for their skill and experience. While each team will vary depending on your objectives, an effective global delivery team is typically comprised of three layers as a starting point:
The first layer represents the main decision makers of the project, otherwise known as your steering committee. A steering committee is made up of senior executives and business sponsors who are responsible for aligning the ERP project to the company’s goals, rejecting or approving components of the project, and removing roadblocks. Strong executive sponsorship and leadership are critical to success in every global ERP rollout.
The second layer is a centralized team of department leads and managers that are responsible for developing the global systems template, business processes, and standards that your business will run on. This highly functional team is experienced in global rollouts, understanding the technical requirements while setting expectations, pushing to meet deadlines, and reporting back to the executive team on progress. On this team, you will need a:
- Project Manager
- Business Process Lead
- Solution Architect
Extended Core Team
The third layer is your team of super users and subject matter experts who are hands-on with business processes. This invaluable team helps the core team with business processes and typically includes:
- End Users
- Functional/Development Consultants
- Infrastructure and Technical Consultants
While each of these layers includes a mix of global and local team members, it’s the core global team that is responsible for providing central governance and communicating with the local team.
The Global Project Manager, for example, is accountable for setting expectations on a global scale, from time zones and languages to resource planning. They manage tasks, deliverables, risk, and change while keeping the local project managers on track and following the same global methodology and processes. Another example is the Global Solution Architect. This role works with the local solution architects to make sure they understand the analysis, solution design, and deadline expectations.
Take one of our most recent examples. We previously worked on a global ERP project implementation that included ten countries, mostly from Latin America. All ten countries had different accounting structures, so we asked each country to allocate one controller to meet with the global team, to help us design a global systems template that considered the local structures and chart of accounts.
How to Communicate with a Global ERP Team
The key to a successful global ERP implementation is overcommunication. It’s important to remember that while this large ERP rollout project is happening, so are the everyday operational tasks required to keep the business functioning as usual. Many core teams include team members from the client side who are either juggling their day-to-day work or responsible for offloading their job duties while the ERP project is ongoing. Time doesn’t stop. Instead, you have to be precise and articulate exactly what has to be done, by who and when to keep the project running as tight as possible.
When you onboard your global team with their roles and responsibilities, it is critical to communicate the duration and frequency of each task and set a clear expectation of roles, reporting, and escalation processes. We always say to our teams, “If something is not documented, it doesn’t exist on the project.” With a schedule of what and when everything needs to happen, there is no element of surprise. Documentation will help you define meeting frequency, milestones, project status reporting, functional requirements, and what issues and risk need to be monitored. This practice should also help you identify any special considerations for local and disparate resources, including languages and cultural factors (i.e holiday schedules).
With so many departments and technical staff working together on the same project, you need control and communication to make sure each team member stays on task. Each team member needs to know what information they will be receiving on a regular basis, who is responsible for reviewing and approving it, and who is ultimately accountable for delivering. The best way to do this is to identify all of the events required on your global ERP project with frequency, method, and purpose. You may need to have individual meetings with certain groups and then have a cross-functional discussion to make sure there is collaboration between different teams. To get the most out of these meetings, you need to identify in advance who has responsibility and decision making in each of these scenarios:
- Steering committee meeting
- Core team meetings
- IT team meetings
- Project status meetings
- Functional requirement review and approvals
The OnActuate team has an extensive background in building effective teams that result in successful global ERP rollouts. Our experienced and flexible consultants have worked on projects across varied industries, multiple geographies, and diverse cultures. We are fully equipped with the right people to take on your upcoming global ERP rollout. Please contact us if you would like a separate assessment of your current or planned project.