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ESR Associates, Inc.
ESR Associates is now owned by ALTEN CalSoft Labs a technology
focused company based in Santa Clara Chicago, and Columbus. ESR-Associates is an IT solution provider with focus on providing
complete ERP life cycle support.
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ERP Implementation - Managing the risk  

Implementing an ERP solution requires the attention of the entire organization. The implementation is complex, intense, and could prove to be extremely disruptive to the organization. Most implementations require the help of a Systems Integrator to assist in the effort. Even with this help, some projects cause significant disruptions to the business at go live, and for months thereafter. The notorious “performance dip” occurs when the organization does not comprehend this transition and is not prepared for it.

There is no miracle cure to an ERP Implementation. The fact is i mplementing the ERP solution will require some traditional IT fundamental project methodologies to ensure success. The company must work on project fundamentals implemented through a series of processes common to every ERP project. Examples of these methodologies are: software configuration, integration testing, deployment, and others which traditionally have been associated with IT Projects.

Also, our experience has shown us that companies will have a better project if they have strong fundamentals in the areas of Ownership, Change Management, Project Management, Communications, Training, and Knowledge Transfer.

A successful ERP implementation is more likely to occur with an integrated set of resources. These are the company’s IT organization, the business organization, and the System Integrator. The challenge is to fully achieve functional integration between these groups, insuring timely and accountable results.

The challenge is alleviated by a sound managerial and oversight approach. This involves a commitment from a strong business “Steering Team”, and an experienced resource capability for independent review, verification, and validation. For clarification, we refer to this capability as the “IRV”.

The role of the IRV is to keep the project on track, avert problems at "go live", and help the Steering Team with issues they don't have experience in dealing with. The role is very different than that of the project manager, or the Systems Integrator. The following will provide a definition of the role, the type of individual required, and the reporting relationship to the ERP effort.

  • Organizational alignment - The resource will assist in structuring an organizational model for IT, and the Steering Team which will be used for the duration of the project
  • IT Transformation - The IT organization will be transformed from the traditional model to one of being responsive to the needs of the business. This will require a new structure, measurements, and methodology for functioning following the ERP implementation. It is to further insure the IT organization and the business are positioned to support and leverage the business application life cycle.
  • Project policing - As the project moves forward, it must be policed to ensure success. The policing will be independent of the effort and will be in the form of a continuous audit. The ongoing audit will act as a check point, as to the health of the project.
  • Business rule suggestions - Lack of, or complex business rules can be the death of the ERP effort. Companies need outside help to challenge the need for complex business rules, and an understanding of the impact they have on the effort.
  • System Integrator monitoring - No System Integrator is perfect, nor do any of them have all the tools, methodologies, or people to complete the task to 100 % satisfaction. The IRV will keep the System Integrator honest, and focused on what they are hired to do.
  • Project milestone suggestions and timing - Milestones will be met and missed. The IRV will help assess the impact of missed milestones, and assist the Steering Team decide as to the steps need to be taken to shore up the project.
  • Deployment assessment - Deployment of the project is critical to ensuring business continuity. Having a good deployment plan in place will be critical to the go live effort. The IRV will address this by overseeing the dress rehearsal, and advising the Steering Team of the organizational readiness.
  • Go Live readiness assessment - At go live there will be a fair amount of "noise" that needs to be sorted out as to the reality of the issues, and the priority of the effort to fix. The IRV can help sort out the issues, and act as an unbiased opinion as to the severity of the problem.
  • Bolt on impact assessment - Knowledge of the need for, and the type of bolt on required could be an issue. Most ERP vendors have their own choice as to what to use, but it might not be in the best interest of the company to purchase based on the advice and council of the ERP vendor. The IRV will help in finding alternatives that meet the requirements.
  • ERP vendor support assessment - The IRV will assist in putting pressure on the ERP vendor for needed support.
  • Knowledge transfer - The IRV will advise the Steering Team of progress related to knowledge transfer and the cost of ownership post go live.
  • Training assessment - The IRV will review the training methodology, identify issues, and actions needed to ensure people are receiving the training needed for success.
  • Change management assessment - The IRV will participate in the change management role, to ensure the quality of the effort is in line with the scope of the project. Change management includes a communication plan designed to keep the company informed of the progress of the effort

Competencies required

  • Former IT Executive with business experience - Former CIO or equivalent with experience in the business. The person must be knowledgeable of business process design and process integration.
  • Well versed in ERP implementations - The person should have a strong knowledge base and experience with enterprise, large scale IT projects.
  • Excellent communication skills – Ability to effectively communicate with the various levels involved with enterprise projects, including senior level business management.
  • Willingness to make tough calls – sort out the significant from the insignificant
  • Can provide contacts in the industry for benchmarking - Has several contacts in the industry that can be contacted for support.

Below we provide the typical organizational structure for the Project office. A definition of all of the roles and their responsibilities are defined in the project charter.

Project Office

It is important that the IRV role is in place on all phases of the project as the role will play an important part in all phases. See the following page for a high level view of the phases.

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