Last week, we spoke about the importance of backfilling key personnel in the preparation phase of an implementation phase. We have both seen clients budget for the backfill but not execute because they thought it would be too difficult to actually follow through on that. This is a very big factor in success, and it means you need to start looking at the punch list. Is the executive leadership involved, do you have the proper resources assigned, the right project manager, and the right partner? Those are the big four success criteria for ERP projects in the public sector.
Making sure you have the right people available at the right time on the projects is sometimes easier said than done. What we've seen work for organizations is having a formal backfill program in place prior to the start of the ERP implementation. This means that there are folks in place trained to do those critical business processes that still need to take place. When your resources are assigned to the project, it's very important to have the applicable resources on the project to make the necessary decisions when required. One of the biggest things that increases risk and timeline is revisiting decisions, so you want the project team to be empowered to make those decisions. To do so, they need to be at the right level, have the right experience, and know that their knowledge is important for the business operation to proceed.
Some companies have a readiness checklist that they send to customers, asking things like are you planning properly for your resources to be assigned to the project as needed, or if they have backfilled those resources, etc. Some advice is when you go to select a partner, one of the things you should check is if they can tell you how many subject matter experts from your organization you will need to make available for the duration of the project. Something like, "to implement this system with these modules, we're going to need these types of SMEs from your organization for this period of time during these phases of the implementation." They won't be taking 10 or 12 people out of the organization completely for a year, although I've seen that done on larger projects. For most projects though, you need certain people during the design discussions, others during the system test generation, and so on. This is why it is so important to be sure that you have the correct people evaluating these things.