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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Top Management's Role in ERP System Implementation Projects

Our working experience shows that traditional problems impeding the automation process at Russian enterprises are the qualification level of personnel, managerial discipline, the state of the regulatory and reference framework, and the degree of involvement of the company's management in the project. The active role of management in the implementation of an ERP system is the crucial factor to its success and an integral part of any implementation project.

For Russian enterprises, an ERP system is not just a tool for managing the company's resources, but a new business ideology. That is why a company's management and personnel are required to not only have the appropriate qualifications (the knowledge of new managerial techniques, standards and their advantages), but also a certain "psychological readiness." In many ways it depends on corporate culture: the readiness of a company's personnel to perform work on time, accept innovations and understand the importance of automation for the company's development.

The perspective of a company's CEO largely determines the success of the transition. He or she should not only clearly understand the objects and goals of the new technology implementation process and manage that process, but should also be the mastermind of the project. Unfortunately, Russian managers often underestimate their role in the implementation process.

Every consultant in charge of implementing ERP systems dreams of a client who knows what he or she wants, who is capable of funding the project and who is eager to support it from start to finish. Let's call such person a project sponsor. Practical steps for the project sponsor to create a successful project are to:

• create a platform for the change, assess the current state of the business and build the business case for the change;

• make sure that the company has enough resources to realize sufficient changes;

• find a team of able and enthusiastic people who will dedicate enough time to the project;

• find a qualified professional consulting company that is prepared to put its good name to the test.

A successful CEO will be fully aware of the professionalism needed to complete a project of such enormous complexity and will be completely focused on its implementation. He or she will lack only two things: the professional skills required of a project manager and the time to carry out the project. A CEO's choice of project manager is critical and is the first test in the CEO's commitment to the successful implementation of the project.

If it makes no difference for the company that one of its top managers has become the project manager and has therefore stopped executing his or her direct duties, one may say that the project manager assignment is wrong. And vice versa, if the company's CEO assigns a person who can be released only from his minimum duties, he or she makes the right, though difficult choice.

The project manager must have an overall picture of the company's operations as well as leading qualities. He or she must explain the general view of the system implementation progress to every member of the project team and oversee the various stages of the project's implementation.

Finally, we should consider the motivation of the project manager and personnel. Although it is an honor to be part of the project team, without extra remuneration it will be difficult to keep motivation high. Participation in a project to implement an ERP system is usually considered as overwork. A system to record the input of every team member will ensure each team member is aware of their personal importance in the group and will provide them with additional incentives to work more effectively. There are many reward schemes that can be used to increase motivation. Moreover, the company's management should be aware of and sensitive to anything that may have an effect on the work of the top manager running the project, and on the work of the project team.

In conclusion, it may it be said that the above is not meant to delve into the depths of ERP system implementation projects; it attempts only to provide the general goals a company's management should attain before implementing an ERP system at its enterprise.