The tremendous complexity of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) development or implementation project demands a leader who is highly experienced in project management. But where do you begin in your search for the right candidate? It’s a common question, with complexity that is amplified by the high stakes and highly technical nature of the project. 

Good ERP project management practices are essential for success. Hire an inefficient project manager and you may find yourself facing major delays, disruptive setbacks and costly errors. That makes this a very high-stakes hire — one that you need to get right the first time.

What Does an ERP Project Management Specialist Do, Exactly? 

As you delve into the hiring process for an ERP project manager, you will need to have a firm understanding of their role and duties. Project management is no small feat, particularly for an enterprise resource planning platform since this software will serve as the company’s virtual core — a centralized database with modules for each of the organization’s different divisions or departments. Remember, you are building a massive, integrated and mission-critical ERP platform that will impact the entire business and its operations. No pressure, right?

An ERP project manager is charged with some of the following duties and tasks. 

  • Developing ERP implementation strategy.
  • Developing a training strategy for the ERP platform’s users.
  • Working with fellow team members to select an ERP implementation and deployment partner.
  • Overseeing and coordinating the implementation and deployment processes.
  • Troubleshooting challenges that arise during the ERP implementation and deployment process. 
  • Leading meetings with company executives and stakeholders to provide updates and to gather information required for a successful ERP implementation. 
  • Evaluating ERP platform efficiency and recommending post-deployment modifications.

An ERP project management specialist typically engages company leadership on a regular basis — a fact that underscores the importance of efficiency and professionalism. CEOs, COOs, CTOs and other C-suite executives simply don’t have the time for incompetence or inefficiency. They want this new enterprise software platform to be deployed promptly so they can see a return on investment as soon as possible. Therefore, you need to hire an ERP project manager who can stand before these executives with confidence as they expedite the process and maximize efficiency without cutting corners or compromising quality. 

Tips to Hire the Right Candidate for Your ERP Project Management Needs

Hiring the right ERP project manager requires more than just an understanding of their role and duties. There are a number of traits and capabilities that you should be looking for as you consider the candidates. 

  • Leadership Capabilities – The best ERP project managers are natural leaders who are comfortable with taking charge and leading the group toward success. Look for an individual with a confident, take-charge attitude and experience in leadership roles. 
  • Strategy and Analysis – ERP project management demands strong analytical and strategy development skills. This individual must be capable of evaluating your needs, the implementation partner’s needs and the technical aspects of the project as they plan and strategize for success. A project manager is going to help devise a strategy and coordinate operations as your enterprise software platform is configured and ultimately deployed. It is prudent to seek o a candidate with references and past projects that serve as a testament to past strategic successes. 
  • Planning Abilities – Effective ERP project management requires intense planning. These enterprise software platforms are not only immense in terms of size, but they are also extremely complex. Implementation is a very comprehensive and involved process with lots of “moving parts” that must work together with the precision of clockwork. To achieve this, you need precise planning and a refined implementation strategy. Seek a candidate who emphasizes the importance of planning, including contingency plans. Contingency plans are critical because you never know when things may go off the rails. You want a project manager who is prepared and ready to act regardless of what occurs. 
  • Risk Management Expertise – There is an inherent element of risk associated with essentially unplugging all of a company’s existing software systems and turning on an entirely new centralized system. Data migration poses a risk, as there is a chance data integrity may be compromised or corrupted. Users may not be thoroughly trained, resulting in errors or lapses in productivity. A particular functionality could be accidentally omitted from the ERP platform or a configuration may not meet the needs of a particular department, leading to downtime. Data storage integration may be configured improperly, resulting in data that is not properly retained — that spells non-compliance with recordkeeping regulations. There are countless issues that could arise before, during and after an ERP deployment. Many of these risks carry significant and costly consequences. You want an ERP project manager who understands those risks and takes a proactive approach to risk mitigation and avoidance. 

As you consider the candidates, be sure to ask lots of questions. Hypothetical questions can be very effective for determining how an individual would react in a particular scenario. Ideally, your hypothetical questions should involve situations or challenges that you expect to encounter during your ERP implementation and deployment project. 

What’s more, the very act of having to answer questions on the fly adds an element of stress to the equation. Watch the candidate to see how they react as they’re placed under stress. The best ERP project managers are unshakeable. They’re confident even when they’re facing an unpredictable, high-stakes line of questioning. 

The right project manager will bring your enterprise software implementation to the finish line in an efficient manner, while ensuring that all of your needs are addressed along the way. There is significant potential for disruption to a company’s operations during the implementation and deployment processes; you must proceed with confidence knowing that your ERP project manager will minimize disruption while keeping the project on track.

Finding the right enterprise resource planning project manager is critical to the success of your project. Often, a company finds that it lacks the resources and expertise required to oversee the hiring process for this kind of position. But there is help. Cox-Little’s ERP experts have extensive experience in all aspects of ERP, from hiring the right ERP project managers, to platform selection, through implementation to deployment and beyond.  Contact the Cox-Little team today to learn more about our talented ERP professionals and how we can guide your ERP implementation to the finish line with minimal stress and maximum ROI.