Identify (or create) the unit within your organization that will oversee and manage your new ERP.
I have worked on several cloud-based ERP implementations where the organization’s team looked puzzled when I asked, “Who will own this application/system going forward?” The response is invariably, “Why, the IT department, of course.”
An ERP system encompasses every aspect of an organization’s underlying business processes, from hiring and paying employees, to purchasing and asset management, to budget planning and grant/project management to name just a few. The key point here is that these business processes span many different functional areas, including, but not limited to, Human Resources, Procurement, Budget, Grants, and Finance.
Most organizations will state that their IT department will own the ongoing oversight of the ERP. However, the IT department often feels that “ownership” of the ERP (which are now almost exclusively cloud-based systems) should reside within the functional areas. In the absence of clear direction regarding which entity oversees what aspect of the system, the ERP becomes a “hot potato” within the organization when concrete decision-making is needed.
Cloud-based ERPs are continually updated on regular schedules. Often these updates change the way end users interact with the system, so communication and documentation must be created to inform users of the updates and the impact on their work. IT departments are traditionally ill-equipped to track and communicate system updates; so, on whom does this task fall within an organization?
Cloud-based systems present a new governance paradigm for managing technology applications that often require an organization to rethink how systems are managed within the organization. One solution is to develop a working coalition of leaders from stakeholder departments (including IT) with a clear charter that defines the decision-making process and areas of responsibility.
Modern cloud-based ERPs are revolutionizing the way organizations manage their business processes, providing unparalleled access to data while eliminating process redundancies and streamlining the way work gets done. Unfortunately, some organizations that invest heavily in these systems expect the resulting technology transformation to effortlessly fuel the organizational transformation that also must occur for a successful outcome. They neglect the people side of change that the following recommendations in this series address:
My advice to organizations considering a cloud-based ERP investment is not to fall into the trap of thinking that a large-scale technology transformation will have little or no impact on their organization’s people. Proactively assess your organization’s overall health and work closely with your organizational change management consultant to perform a current-state analysis, review and be open to the results and recommendations, and take the necessary actions to ensure success.