Setting foundations for ERP implementation success

Identify the right stakeholders; define realistic goals

Is your ERP software reaching the end of its useful life? We know implementing a new solution is a big job, and getting started with the right foundations in place is key to success. 

First and most importantly, implementing a new ERP solution is a business project. Like all business projects, this activity requires a sponsor in the organisation who has the seniority and desire to drive change, as well as the authority to secure the resources required to undertake this task.

Once a sponsor is in place, here are some key points to consider:

Define the project

As with any project, ensure that there are clear, written objectives and measures of success. The project should be able to be justified using standard payback methodologies. Document risks – the process of identifying risks, their likelihood, impact and mitigation strategies is an important part of the project definition process.

Set the scope

Many business projects experience cost overruns, stall or even fail because:

- the project scope is not understood.
- the scope changes, often multiple times, during the life of the project.
- the project is too large.

Our recommendation is to segment large projects into discrete pieces of work, or phases. This approach to ERP implementation enables better focus on outcomes, which curbs scope creep and paves the way for quick wins.

Define the team

While the team size varies depending on the size of the project, there are certain roles that should be involved to enable success:

Start by finding a project manager. This could be any internal stakeholder, including the project sponsor, but they must have the time and focus necessary to manage all the moving parts. Someone who is already stretched too thin will struggle to maintain momentum, so it may become a question of temporarily offloading some responsibilities to enable the right project manager to lead the way. Another option is to find an external partner with the correct experience and skillset to manage the project. 

Include subject matter experts. These team members represent the interests of the business and can provide the best guidance, ensuring the final solution is configured and implemented to support business processes. Subject matter experts tend to be those individuals who interact with the system the most. Later on, these stakeholders will be responsible for user acceptance testing, training other users, and maintaining healthy internal knowledge about the solution.

Include data migration and cleansing experts. An ERP migration represents an opportunity to cleanse existing data. Master data (customers, suppliers and products) is the prime area to be focused on. Take the opportunity to remove obsolete data and to tidy up data being retained. Consider what transactional data needs to be migrated and how in-flight transactions (such as sales and purchase orders) will be handled.

Agree to the budget

Once the scope and objectives are understood, a budget can be established. This can inform the evaluation of potential solutions based on the cost in relationship to the benefits.

Set foundations for good governance

Depending on the organisation size, governance may include a steering group with attendees from your organisation and the external implementation partner(s). Agree, upfront, aspects such as reporting, risk and issue management, budget and financial management, and regular reviews. The goal is to avoid confusion, prevent surprises, and enable sound timeline and financial management.

Change management

The implementation of an ERP application can create organisational change which may have legal HR implications. Business stakeholders should ensure they have the correct skills, either internally or through an external partner, to manage change, and to help communicate and encourage new team behaviours.

Now that you’ve:

- chosen the right project sponsor,
- identified key stakeholders,
- set the project scope, goals and budget, and
- set foundations for good governance,

it’s time to gain a full understanding of business needs. We'll be sharing more about that in the next article in this series. 

In the meantime, if you’re planning on implementing a new ERP solution and would like to speak to an expert who can help you accelerate the process by providing practical advice, feel free to get in touch by emailing Kevin at or by calling +64 9 977 5805.