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The Role of the ERP Project Manager

9/29/2010 at 11:47 am by

role-erp-managerA successful ERP implementation project has many moving parts, and those parts all need to be able to communicate with one another quickly and effectively. After all, much of the purpose of an ERP system is to help integrate the various departments of a business – human resources, information technology, products and supplies – into one conglomerate that operates more like a big machine than several smaller, independent parts.

However, getting each of these different departments to understand the others can sometimes feel like a monumental task. In fact, the ERP Projects blog compares it to a job as a UN translator, who must simultaneously listen to and translate his client’s words. One mistake, and the translator could jeopardize international relations.

Of course, the stakes aren’t quite that high at your corporation. But if some information gets mistranslated between HR and IT, the effects can be enormous – which is why the project manager’s job is so important.

The project manager must communicate a number of important facts and ideas, including:

  • The objectives and goals of ERP implementation
  • The feasibility of certain goals
  • The risks associated with the project
  • Time and budget expectations and constraints
  • The way ERP will change each department’s role

As anyone who’s ever played the children’s game of “telephone” knows, thoughts and ideas can easily be misinterpreted or mistranslated by people who look at data differently. People in HR don’t see the same world that people in IT see, and unless someone’s there to help manage the communication between these departments, things can get muddied.

When deciding who to elect as the company’s ERP project manager, there are a number of things to keep in mind. First, look for an individual who is an excellent and dedicated problem-solver. If you’re talking to an experienced manager, ask for detailed stories of actual projects, and how they handled specific situations that came up along the way–such as a team member not meeting a deadline. How did this affect the overall deadline, and how was this information relayed to the stakeholder?  Ask the tough questions, and be specific. This will give give you a sense of their intelligence, attitude and commitment.

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About the Author

The Sage ERP team report on various topics related to ERP and business management.

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