The decision to implement a new enterprise resource planning system is not one made lightly. While there are huge advantages to implementing or upgrading an ERP, a successful ERP project requires a lot of effort, input, and time. So, once your organization decides to move forward with an ERP, you want to ensure that it goes off without a hitch.
This is the first in a series of articles that outline the profile of a successful ERP project. First up are your subject matter experts (SMEs) and the role they play.
What is a Subject Matter Expert (SME)?
The first conversations we have with clients are concerning assigning SMEs to assist with the ERP project. These staff members should have an understanding of current internal business processes, leadership skills, and the bandwidth to take on the ERP project outside of their daily work. Experience with other ERP systems is great and experience with other ERP projects is even better.
With their insider knowledge of processes and systems, SMEs help lead the core ERP design and delivery team to shape the solution. After, they become the leading employees of the new ERP system.
You’ll want at least one representative from each of your departments because they will have firsthand experience of how current processes work and will be directly affected by the new system.
The time spent on understanding how the department-specific processes and requirements work currently will pay dividends during ERP design and development. Think about it, if the accounting department needs to have access to certain metrics for monthly reports, then the ERP should be able to provide those data points within the specified time parameters. If your ERP implementation partner knows about these reports ahead of time, they can be sure to set up the solution to streamline that data acquisition process.
SMEs as Guides
While the SMEs offer crucial information to understand and map current processes, they will also be equally important as trainers. After working with implementation partners, SMEs will take their in-depth knowledge of the new ERP system processes and help train the rest of the staff in their areas of expertise. In addition, they guide their team and foster buy-in.
But just because a staff member is the department head doesn’t mean that they would make the best SME. If you’ve heard the phrase, “we’ve always done it that way,” said by a staff member you’re considering as an SME, you may want to think again. An SME should instill confidence in the other people in their department, so if they don’t see the point in implementing an ERP in the first place, then the adoptation rate of their team will plummet.
Multiple Heads are Better than One
Some organizations decide to appoint a single person to head up the entire ERP process. While the thought is that a single point of contact will streamline the process, you’re more likely to slow it down and cause a bottleneck. With a single decision-maker, there is often a disconnect between their thoughts on processes and staff who carry out the various functions.
Even if there are already documented processes in place, can that person guarantee they are up-to-date and accurate? Do they understand all the process nuances for all the departments that will be affected by the new ERP system?
Other issues that can pop up with only a single SME are a matter of time and not having enough of it. Implementing an ERP isn’t exactly a quick thing. It’s time-intensive, and most likely, an SME has other day-to-day duties to attend to. SMEs from each affected department will help lighten the workload.
A successful ERP project really is a team effort. With the right SMEs in place along with a great ERP implementation partner, you’re well on your way to an optimized, modernized supply chain.
Here at Rangeline, we’re with our clients every step of the way, from analyzing business processes to supporting staff after solution implementation. We are a boutique Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions provider using Microsoft Dynamics 365 to drive digital excellence for manufacturing and distribution organizations.
It’s not enough to get the technology working efficiently if the people behind it struggle with adoption and use. Rangeline Solutions guides our clients through the entire change process.
Ready to get started? Request a consultation today!