Is a Separate Project Manager Necessary for ERP Implementation?

Should small to medium business purchasers of Enterprise Resource Planning systems, avoid the situation where the lead implementation specialist of the project has the dual role of project manager, or is it not really that important? Is there a certain company size at which it becomes important? What are the risks of not having separate persons for each function?

Ask yourself this, what percentage of implementation specialists would you imagine are good at BOTH technology implementation (requirements gathering, design, implementation, programming, testing, training, etc.), AND project management (budgeting, scheduling, conflict resolution, change management, vendor negotiation, customer interface, etc.)?

Think about it. Not every ERP software package is appropriate for your business. Every implementation person at every ERP vendor is not exceptional. What are the odds that you choose the best ERP vendor, AND they assign an outstanding implementation person, AND that person happens to also be an excellent project manager? Even if that were to be the case, do you want that person to do both jobs at the same time on your project?

Implementing ERP is not about technology. It’s about managing fundamental change. The technology is simply a tool to that end. In most small to medium enterprise implementations, where there is no dedicated project manager, the project often goes off the rails when the go-live deadline looms. Additionally, a consultant project manager would be one hundred percent looking out for the interests of your business, which do not always coincide with the interests of the ERP vendor. I recommend that it is always appropriate to hire both the ERP vendor’s technology implementation person, and a consultant project manager to lead and manage this transition.

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