The role of the steering committee in an ERP implementation

////The role of the steering committee in an ERP implementation

Installing enterprise resource planning software requires a lot of people to be involved at various points of the project. These stakeholders also need effective leadership to guide the process so that it doesn't fall apart at critical junctures. The employees and management who have the most impact in the company can and will influence the overall result. The scope of ERP, especially a Microsoft Dynamics implementation, can be vast, especially when used in businesses such as manufacturers or distributors. Even upgrading from a legacy ERP system can require an extensive amount of time, money and resources, a major financial investment. Preventing failure is a critical part of the implementation process, which is why the leadership of a company should look to establish a steering committee for the benefit of making the transition process as smooth and efficient as possible.

The burden of the company
For many, the idea of a steering committee – which should be composed of the highest levels of management in a company – is simply to appoint the implementation team, followed by selecting the ERP vendor and software package. However,  there is far more to this process than simply making the right appointments, according to consulting firm 180 Systems. It is through the committee that the goals of the project are set. That means figuring out what business processes need to be address with the software – such as improving shipments and transfers with mobile WMS – and what metrics are needed to for the project to be a success.

Along with the goals, the steering committee establishes the parameters to complete them by way of scope, timeline and budget. The reason the committee takes on so much responsibility is quite simple. Usually, such projects had been the responsibility of one executive or manager. The problem with this mechanism is obvious: The person is limited by the amount of influence he or she has in the company, yet the entire process hinges on this person's abilities to allocate resources to the project. Moreover, it could be seen as leadership's attempt to defer responsibility. However, an ERP implementation is simply too large to be relegated to one person, especially if there are multiple departments involved. That's why a team of the company's leaders should be handling these duties: It shows that they are truly backing the project.

In addition to taking full responsibility for and setting the framework of the project, the steering committees serves as the voice of reason for the entire process, as consulting firm Manufacturing Practices suggests. For example, if problems arise between certain employees or managers because a component of the Microsoft Dynamics implementation runs against what they're used to doing, it's up the leaders on the committee to resolve the dispute to keep things going. They also serve as a buffer between any other projects the company is taking on. That means preventing important people from being moved somewhere else at a critical moment.

Learn how to define your ERP strategy by downloading the white paper entitled "ERP in Manufacturing: Defining the ERP Strategy" from the DMS website today.