In an ERP project, the Project Manager is identified early on in the process. This is a good first step, but it is important to establish expectations and an understanding of what is anticipated of this role. For the past several weeks I have discussed what internal resources a company should plan to commit to an ERP modernization project, and what those roles accomplish for the project to be a success. This week I’ll discuss some important thoughts you should consider when deciding who your Project Manager should be.
It should go without saying that no matter how good your other resources assigned to a project are, if you don’t have a great Project Manager, your ERP project may be in trouble right from the start.
A Good Project Manager
What should you look for to help identify that great Project Manager? I believe that you should identify the Project Manager (PM) who is not necessarily the most liked in the organization but the most respected. The PM is going to have to make hard decisions and push people to accomplish tasks on time even when they have competing priorities. A PM who is well liked may be willing to ‘cut some slack’ and let team members slide on commitments with the assumption that the time can be made up later. There are usually so many interconnected dependencies in an ERP project that once you start down this path, it can be almost impossible to recover. A well-respected PM will work with the resource or his/her manager to remove and reprioritize other work to keep the project on schedule.
This is just one of the many responsibilities your PM needs to balance. You can easily find a myriad of PM responsibility lists by searching the internet, but I’ve included a list below that I feel is representative. Regardless of the final list you use, your PM must be the uncontested leader of the project team:
- Possesses expertise in process improvement, project, and change management to guide your team on a successful journey.
- Is responsible for all project documentation: project charter, requirements document, schedule, timeline, risk register, issues list, status reports, communication plan, etc.
- Manages the project resources. Anticipates the resource skills needed to accomplish the project tasks and develops a role matrix. Augments and reduces staffing as required for the work to be accomplished or for the stage the project is in.
- Schedules, develops agendas for, and leads all project team meetings: steering committee, core team, functional teams, vendor engagements, and status meetings. Records and reports outcomes.
- Works with the various project resources to develop the work breakdown structure, tasks and sub-tasks, deliverables, and milestones. Documents these in the approved project planning software and is responsible for keeping the plan up to date.
- Facilitates the Project Kickoff meeting to communicate the project’s objectives to the entire team. Ensures all resources are aware of their responsibilities and deliverables. Provides training as necessary to team members.
- Keeps the schedule updated as the project progresses.
- Maintains and tracks the project’s issues lists. Ensures issues are assigned to a resource for resolution, assigns an appropriate resolution date, and follows up to see that dates are met.
- Continuously monitors project risks, takes appropriate action as required, and updates the risk register as needed.
- Assists the team in executing the change management plan. Helps identify required training, develop training material, and scheduling training sessions.
- Escalates issues or risks beyond the authority of the execution team to the steering or executive committee for resolution.
- Manages the project’s timeline, budget, and scope to meet the milestone delivery dates. Submits and tracks change requests and ensures proper change review procedures are followed when changes are made to project timeline, budget, or scope.
- Manages the project budget if required.
- Provides project status updates, tailored to specific stakeholder groups, in accordance to agreed upon reporting cadence.
As you can see, this is a lot of responsibility for a single resource. Depending on the size and scope of your project it may be necessary to assign functional PM’s to specific business areas. These functional PMs will be responsible for managing the tasks for that part of the project specifically and will report up to the PM and will be discussed in a separate post. This can alleviate some of the workload for the PM and allow for the appropriate level of attention for critical business processes.
There will be few projects that will impact your business like an ERP project, so make sure your PM is totally committed to its success.
Your PM is the one resource who should be assigned 100% to the project. If they have other projects that they are managing, then you need to reassign those projects to other resources. This person must be ‘living and breathing’ your project from inception to completion.
Hopefully I have communicated how important your project manager is to the success of your project. This resource will be interacting and communicating with every other project resource from the top executives, internal and external stakeholders, vendors, functional managers, and subject matter experts. Effective people management and communication skills are of paramount importance. Choose your PM wisely. Get your executive, business, and IT managers on board. They must all support and assist your PM. If you choose the right person for this role, and your team supports them, then you should have an excellent prospect for success. Next week I will cover the role of the Functional Project Manager and then wrap up this series discussing your SMEs, so stay tuned.