Is the role of an internal ERP Team Complementary or Supplementary?Raghupathy Nagarajan
Implementing an enterprise-wide system, like ERP, is a daunting task and there are many companies who have burnt their fingers and fortunes in attempting such implementations (hard lessons learnt!!). Though every off-the-shelf ERP vendor comes with a unique methodology of implementation, the failure rate is still soaring.
Reasons of ERP Implementation failures; who is the saviour?
Analysts list down the various factors for such failures (successes), ranging from people, processes, organization type / size, product, technology till their implementation vendors. Though success can have various parameters of measure, the current trend is how the business shuns away their legacy systems and adapts to the newer systems. Though there are many factors aiding this transition, like well-defined and standardized business processes and user adaptation, the key element of this transition is the internal ERP team of the company. This team acts as the bridge for business users to move ahead from the legacy system to the new ERP system.
What makes an ERP team?
The characteristics of this internal competency also known as ERP teams are very different from the usual IT team we find in companies. This internal competency (ERP Team) is built with a blend of analysts from key domains, like finance or supply chain, some nerds from systems background, and at times some folks even from the same technology / product profile. This blend possesses the unique quality of absorbing the business needs, processes pretty quickly and converting them into system requirements.
Role of ERP team
The activities of this team typically include drawing the sketches of major / critical business process flows, documenting the controls and checks, and identifying the gamut of the new system needs for achieving it. The presence of such team would help in translating the business needs / process into system requirements, and facilitate the external parties like the implementation vendors to quickly understand the business needs. Likewise, with internal parties this ERP team would also facilitate the system design to be understood by the business users and play a key role in transforming this solution as a practiced one.
Pros and cons of not having an internal ERP team
The critical question arises if this Internal ERP team’s role is complementary or supplementary to external vendors in implementing the ERP. The role of this team is purely based on factors like budget, process complexities, number of users and rollouts, availability of skilled resources and so on. When an external implementation vendor is replaced by this ERP team, the advantage could be seen as a substantial reduction in TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Implementation becomes more flexible considering the business priorities and the phases can be adjusted accordingly. On the contrary, the disadvantages would be a limited knowledge pool. This might result in shortage of best practices, ideal solutions and industry benchmarks.
There can be plenty of arguments for and against the ERP team’s role, as complementary or supplementary, but there seems a general acceptance now for its presence and purpose. The role can be defined on a case to case basis by analyzing various business scenarios.