How ERP project managers are at the heart of your ERP lifecycle
The other day I caught up with an associate and she revealed that one of her ERP clients had assigned an accountant as the project’s new project manager. In this case, the company’s Chief Financial Officer had cited the role of “project manager” as a growth opportunity for his protégé.
We mused that although both professions rely on ethical, hardworking employees to strictly monitor a budget, work closely with other departments and manage and mitigate risk, there are some red flags with this decision. Despite the high-level similarities, the accounting profession and the project management discipline are highly specialized — each add value to the organization in their own way, but they’re not necessarily interchangeable.
ERP system implementations are large and complex IT projects that can impact virtually every aspect of a company, including vendors and customers. In many cases, business processes are adjusted while implementing new technology and both impact the day-to-day jobs of employees. The project manager fills an essential role by leading the organization, setting the tone for the overall project and helping to escalate and manage issues as they arise. This responsibility and prowess take years to master, and as a PM, I can tell you it isn’t for the faint of heart!
Considering the sheer scale of these projects, a PM can act as the gatekeeper of the project for an organization. Responsibilities include:
- Identifying stakeholders who will be impacted by the solution, and determine their requirements and expectations for the project
- Understanding and documenting the organization’s strategy, current processes and practices for inclusion in the ERP system
- Defining project execution and managing ‘scope creep’ throughout the project
- Facilitating in-house development efforts, user acceptance testing, end user training and go live activities together with the partner’s PM
- Establishing change management practices across the organization to ensure user acceptance of the new solution
Because project delivery is a collective effort, engaging with an experienced project manager to monitor the organization’s tasks and activities alongside a partner PM will improve the likelihood of an on-time and on-budget implementation. Columbus can help identify and guide project activities, however, a qualified and experienced client-side project manager should not be overlooked or underestimated as the project team is defined.
As if by serendipity, I came across an age-old joke:
Q: What do you call an accountant without a spreadsheet?
When I read it I thought, “well, what do you call a PM without a spreadsheet?”
The same thing!
On second thought, maybe accountants and project managers aren’t so different after all…