The evaluation of any software vendor solution must be conducted with an ERP project team with proven expertise and objectivity.
But that’s tough when everyone in the organization has a full plate with existing duties, and in many cases – not too many folks in the organization have lived through such a complex and resource-intensive project.
Ultra was built on the premise of filling the gaps so common in manufacturing and distribution organizations, offering manufacturers and distributors extensive research and vendor independence that delivers a neutral frame of reference for the ERP selection decision.
Through our extensive business process improvement services, we guide the project team through an independent technology evaluation that is designed around the company’s future state needs.
5 Tips to Build Your ERP Evaluation Team
Based on our years of experience, we’ve seen what works when an organization puts careful thought into building the ERP evaluation team.
Shared here are the top tips about assembling the best ERP evaluation team members for a successful project outcome.
Tip 1: Start with an Executive Sponsor
As we offered in a blog post that looked at ERP project team roles and responsibilities, the most successful ERP projects involve an executive sponsor with the relevant authority to drive the effort. Should the ERP evaluation team meet obstacles that require budgetary sign-off or high-level management support, it is the sponsor’s relevant authority that moves the task along.
Many of the engagements we’ve led involved an executive sponsor who was a senior manager with a good grasp of technology and change management, for example, a CTO, CIO or VP of engineering.
Enlisting an executive sponsor is a crucial consideration to keep in mind for successful enterprise technology selection.
Tip 2: Seek Project Management Expertise
Solid project management expertise is needed early on and is an essential part of an ERP evaluation team. The project manager coordinates the evaluation process, acts as the go-to for all other team members and steers the team in the right direction. This role involves setting project milestones, key timelines and schedules. Moreover, the project manager drives the process, organizes communications and manages evaluation timelines and reporting.
The project manager needs to have a thorough understanding of the project’s mission, targets and the ERP KPIs.
It is also fundamental that the project manager has a keen understanding of the enterprise software implementation phase following ERP evaluation and selection. Learn more about the importance enterprise project management.
Tip 3: Involve Cross-Functional Staff
In creating a successful ERP evaluation team, keep the focus on selecting a cross-functional group of the organization’s process owners. In this way, the organization harnesses the innovative thoughts of employees to build ideas and create a knowledge-sharing environment. With open and transparent communication, process owners can express their different concerns that reflect their expertise.
It’s all about getting a complete point of view for a high-level view of the process, as well as the project’s function-specific requirements. This approach also builds trust, collaboration, and autonomy among team members, even after evaluation and selection is complete.
Tip 4: Consider the Process
ERP evaluation teams often struggle to clearly define the evaluation criteria. Ultra Consulting advises manufacturing and distribution organizations to start with five basic criteria:
- Function fit
The internal ERP evaluation team will expand this list as it progresses through the project.
We’ve expanded on each of these five phases in a previous blog post entitled Evaluating ERP Vendors – Evaluation Criteria. While each phase of the process is critically important, an examination of the desired future state is where most companies start. The fit of the vendor’s software to your requirements and desired future state is highlighted through a demonstration of the software. The team should provide the vendors with a view of the desired future state. The vendor then demonstrates how the software meets those requirements to achieve the future state vision.
Tip 5: Understand ERP Evaluation Team Roles and Responsibilities
Understanding each team member’s roles and responsibilities is critical for success. These concepts, as well as additional insight about building the ERP evaluation team, are addressed in a recent episode of Ultra’s ERP podcast series, hosted by Ultra CEO and Founder Jeff Carr.
Listen to the podcast about ERP project roles and responsibilities, as Jeff describes the key stakeholders and members of the ideal ERP project team.
Jeff talks about the role of the sponsor for an ERP evaluation team, which usually includes CEO, COO, CFO, and top VPs of engineering, marketing, sales, manufacturing or operations, quality and logistics.
As we noted above, the executive sponsor is usually the executive in the leadership team who is affected most by the project and contributes significantly to the project success.
The executive sponsor responsibilities include management, leadership, and serving as the project champion.
Jeff also highlights the role of the project manager. This is the individual operationally responsible and accountable for managing project team members, project activities and project goals. Communication up and down the organization is an essential skill for the project manager.
Finally, Jeff explains the role of the business process owners who do much of the heavy lifting for the project. They are responsible for re-engineering their processes to enable maximum improvement.
Next Steps to Build the ERP Evaluation Team
Have questions about building the best ERP evaluation team for your organization?
- See these educational resources including webinars, case studies and white papers for examples of how Ultra’s ERP system selection services add value.
- As an ERP consulting firm serving manufacturing and distribution companies, we’re committed to the success and health of this important industry sector – with services focused on business process improvement, as well as technology evaluation and selection.
- Contact Ultra Consultants to start your technology-enabled transformation.