Over the past few decades, both vendors and customers have gained extensive experience in implementing MIS and ERP software solutions. Interestingly, the factors contributing to success or failure have significantly shifted from hardware and infrastructure to more human-related aspects, such as having a clear understanding of the project’s purpose and the ability to change old habits. This change has brought about new demands on the ideal profile of an internal project leader. Have you identified the characteristics you should seek in your next project leader?
Who’s in the Driver’s Seat?
Which department is driving your next ERP project, and what type of leader is needed? In the early stages of ERP projects, technology was the primary driver, and the main focus was on network printing and multiple-application use from a single PC. The emphasis was on hardware, cables, wall plugs, processing power, storage capacity, and backup equipment. Project leaders typically came from the IT department, which made sense at the time. However, we have come a long way since then, with a period of significant technological advancement leading to a high degree of standardization. Furthermore, the cloud has been introduced, resulting in a significant shift of responsibility to cloud providers for many aspects that were once critical. It’s essential to have a leader who possesses the necessary skills and qualities to handle these new demands, regardless of their departmental background.
Leveraging Your People Potential
In today’s ERP projects, the success or failure depends more on people than technology. You need to define clear and attractive project goals, including a project name that every colleague can understand. And of course you’ve got to assess the impact of the new solution on your business processes. The internal communication should be well-organized, and the people involved will need to accept change and adopt new working methods. The management’s attitude towards change is also a major factor. Are they open to and accepting of all these changes, or would they rather stay behind with the tried and true? Designating a project leader who can manage these human-related aspects effectively will drive the project towards success.
A project leader with excellent communication skills, especially interpersonal communication, is crucial in this arena. Someone with empathy, who understands your business at a high level, can identify and monitor project risks, and prioritize customer (and team) centricity. Unfortunately, finding such qualifications within your IT department isn’t always easy.
For your next ERP project, major upgrade, or migration to the cloud, look for a leader with a high emotional quotient. Such a person will understand that change is one of the most challenging things for human beings. With a captain who can balance the technical aspects with the human-related factors, you’ll have a much greater chance of success!
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