After weeks or months of research and interviews, you’ve finally done it. You’ve chosen the implementation partner who will help make your ERP dreams come true. Congratulations! That’s one difficult decision down. But now the real work begins. Implementing your new ERP system in a way that will help you reach your business goals. One of the biggest ERP project management factors which will determine whether your new ERP implementation is successful, is your working relationship with your ERP partner. Luckily, establishing a good working relationship isn’t rocket science. It starts with making sure expectations are clear from the start. Usually, these are defined during the discovery phase of the project before you’ve officially hired an ERP consultant. But beyond that, there are a few simple things you can do to effectively manage your working relationship with your new ERP partner. Let’s discuss.
Appoint A Primary Contact
Although allowing each of your department managers to handle the pieces of the ERP implementation, which affects them and their team may seem like the smart choice, there’s a better way. To do their job, your ERP implementation partner/consultant needs a principal contact with whom they’ll be working throughout the project. This avoids any confusion over who they should call whenever they have a question. Not only that, working with multiple contacts increases the chance of misunderstandings.
Imagine you’ve asked your ERP partner to coordinate with the managers of each department. Everything’s gotten off to a strong start until, one day, they’re working on setting up the accounting details in the system and they run into a question about how you’d like to handle accounts receivable. As you instructed, they try to contact Sam, the head of the department, to run some options by him. But alas, Sam is on vacation and your ERP consultant can’t continue until they have an answer.
Unsure where else to turn, they ask Sam’s deputy, Betty, for her input. Because she doesn’t know that Sam agreed to change some of the company’s accounts receivable processes to fit with the ERPs workflows, her conversation with the ERP implementation partner produces a great deal of uncertainty and frustration. The ERP partner becomes frustrated because they must explain everything all over again. Worse, the conversation startles Betty and leaves her wondering how these changes will affect her.
If in doubt, ask questions (and be open to answering them)
Throughout the course of your implementation project, you’ll have many conversations with your implementation partner. Sometimes things may get lost in translation. Anytime you’re unsure of something or a question comes to mind, please ask for clarification. Misunderstandings are much simpler to correct when addressed right away. Likewise, your ERP implementation consultant should be able to come to your project manager anytime they have questions. Keeping the lines of communication open is key to effective ERP project management, and will help the project run smoother, adhere to your timeline, and stay on budget.
Always verify information before sharing it for good ERP project management
Remember the story we talked about earlier with Betty and Sam? A breakdown in communication occurred because they didn’t share critical information with one another. Similarly, your project manager can’t be an expert in every aspect of the business. Therefore, before they give the green light for something which will affect a department outside their area of expertise, they must get input from those affected.
- Will the change you’re proposing work for them?
- What potential issues do they see?
Discuss the answers with your ERP partner so you can plan for and address issues ahead of time. Again, this course of action is a lot faster and less expensive than making changes after the fact. Plus, involving end users makes them feel heard, which can only help with change management.
Keep track of the project’s progress in a way that works for your team
ERP implementations are lengthy and involved projects that can span months or even years. So, having a place where everyone who’s involved can go to keep up to date on the project’s progress is crucial. Our team of experienced ERP consultants recommends using an online tool like Microsoft Teams, Smartsheet, or Microsoft Planner. Log deadlines, assignments, and all files associated with the project.
When the inevitable unforeseen issue arises, you’ll be glad you have detailed records. For example, should a task fall behind schedule, note the issue in your teamwork application to alert everyone at once. This saves time and helps avoid or end arguments when someone has questions or dislikes the change.
For more information on choosing the right ERP partner and how to build a successful working relationship with them, check out our eBook entitled “
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