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The Dream Team is synonymous with one word: perfection. The year 1992 marked the first time NBA players were placed on the Olympic basketball roster. All-star players including Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson joined together in a seemingly effortless display of teamwork to win the gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Many sports enthusiasts have hailed the Dream Team as the best team ever assembled.

Organizations embarking on ERP implementations need to understand, as with the creation of the Olympic Dream Team, how to select and create the best team for the implementation. ERP implementations can be difficult and require changes in the organization, processes, and technology.

To ensure the ERP dream team is properly formed, a multi-vendor strategy should be considered. The dream team strategy will allow each vendor or consulting team to provide specialized execution of components within the implementation project. An ERP dream team can be accomplished by adhering to the steps followed by the Dream Team: instilling a draft, calling the plays, and playing by the rules.

The Draft

The U.S. Olympic Committee brought together the best players from around the NBA to form the greatest team in the history of basketball. Each player was carefully selected based on position and performance.

A few years ago, an oilfield services company hired Trenegy to review their fledgling ERP implementation. The company had initially decided to use a one-throat-to-choke approach to implement an ERP system using only one vendor. The client believed taking this would save both time and money, allowing them to complete the ERP implementation under budget.

They quickly found the consulting firm they selected had little to no industry experience and lacked the ability to manage the change process for field employees. They also found that no one vendor or consulting firm has all necessary core competencies needed to implement a complete ERP system. The project suffered as a result. The oilfield services company quickly discovered that they were not equipped to handle such a large undertaking with limited resources and decided to postpone the implementation efforts until the following year.

When the time finally came to implement the ERP system, the company requested Trenegy’s services to facilitate the transition from the single vendor approach to a multi-vendor approach. The client hired a strong technical team from a large technology firm, a controls team from a regional accounting firm, and a change management team with the requisite industry experience. The company identified the necessary components for success as well as the roles that needed to be filled.

Creation of a well-rounded team for any ERP implementation is vital for project success. Before the selection process can begin, a company must first determine the roles needed for the implementation in question. Every ERP implementation contains seven potential functional areas that must be filled. These include core ERP technical expertise, infrastructure upgrades, reporting strategy, data conversion, controls, industry expertise, and change management.

Vendor selections based on the seven key positions identified will allow a company to choose the best vendor for each respective position. The best vendor in this case will include one whose core competency is directly related to the area of the project in which the company is trying to fill. For example, technology firms should be considered for ERP configuration and infrastructure upgrades. Meanwhile, a firm with core competencies in strategy and change management should be selected for change management positions. The bottom line is that technical guys are not well-versed in change management and vice versa. The ultimate goal of the process is to find the most diverse and well-rounded team based on the company’s needs. Failure to identify the proper roles may lead to an ineffective delivery of one or more of the seven core functional areas, resulting in a project delivered past deadline or over budget.

Calling the Plays

With a single hand gesture made by a player or a simple phrase shouted by head coach Chuck Daly, all the players knew the play called and moved to their correct positions. This process was effective in communicating the plays to the players on the court and further welded the Dream Team into a well-oiled machine.

Pundits argue the multi-vendor approach can create barriers and miscommunication. A good project governance process can alleviate these issues. Knowing the critical nature of the communication process within a multi-vendor implementation, Trenegy recommends that project teams have both an individual status update with each project team, as well as regular group meetings to bring the whole project team together. Additionally, we recommend each project team have a representative on the steering committee.

Communication is the element that brings each piece of the project together into one cohesive unit. Companies must convey what constitutes a successful project and how everyone involved in the process can benefit from its success. As a control, the company is tasked with establishing open communication from the projects inception while enforcing the idea throughout the project’s duration.

Playing by the Rules

Chuck Daly had one of the most difficult jobs on the Dream Team. As head coach, it was necessary to appropriately manage the large egos of some of the best players in the world. Before, during, and after each game, he communicated every player’s responsibilities and kept them in line with the overall goals of the team.

A manufacturing client undergoing a yearlong, multi-sourced ERP implementation began to see confusion with its vendors and a lack of responsibility between parties. When we reviewed the company’s project at the request of the new CEO, we found the issue to be a lack of proper project governance. Efforts were duplicated and there was no active project sponsorship to take responsibility, which led to an ineffective implementation. The company had relied too heavily on vendors.

To put the project back on track, the company redesigned the project governance process. The first order of business was for the company to elect someone internally to accept accountability for the project. Next, the company clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of the members involved in the implementation process to eliminate duplicated efforts and to increase communications. In the end, with solid governance systems in place and project ownership assumed by the company, the ERP implementation finished on schedule.

Effectively implementing a strong governance model eliminates duplicated efforts and establishes a chain of command. A strong governance and controls model will effectively tie the selection and communication processes together. Defining roles and responsibilities for all personnel within project teams allows for fluid communication and provides clear objectives for all members of the team. Much of this hinges around having a seasoned internal project manager to represent the team and to enforce the governance model. Without a solid internal project manager, or head coach, projects can lose direction, thus disrupting the project schedule. By developing a strong governance model, the manufacturing company could avoid ending the ERP implementation past schedule and over budget.

The Highlight Reel

The 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball team play in Barcelona was monumental. The gold medal game was not even close, with a deficit of more than 30 points in favor of the Dream Team. The culmination of the skill and diversity of players on the team, strong communication, and visible leadership and control displayed by Coach Daly created the greatest team ever assembled.

Whether a company is undertaking a $20 million ERP implementation or one that’s only a fraction of the cost, a strong, well-rounded implementation team is essential for any successful ERP project. By properly selecting the team, efficiently calling the plays, and adhering to effective rules, an ERP dream team is possible and easier to acquire than one might think.

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