Vital Role of People in ERP System Implementation

Tomasz Barbachowski

There are many articles and more or less scientific publications about ERP systems: their possibilities, advantages, options, implementations and, finally, benefits coming from their implementation and use.

ERP system implementation brings obvious profits and there is no need to enumerate its advantages once again. However, there is only a small number of publications of a role of a human factor in ERP systems: both, if we look from the point of view of an implementation team and the perspective of people involved in such a process on the customer’s side.


Constant Skills Improvement

For merit-related consultants and developers, ERP class systems mean the necessity of a permanent individual education. The systems keep changing all the time, and the documentation of new options and possibilities is very poor at the beginning. Hence, the necessity of individual work and recognition of new functionalities.

The next issue are changing regulations which need adjustment of the systems to new requirements. The recent examples are GDPR and split-payment. Ensuring compliance with regulations is a task which demands on the one hand, a very good merit-related recognition of entered acts and implementing provisions and on the other hand, implementing those requirements in an existing and functioning system.

That is why there is no place for stagnation as to “be updated”, to offer professional services, there is no other way but improving skills and expanding knowledge. With experience, it concerns more a merit-related knowledge than learning about the configuration of an ERP system itself.

Empathy – Inseparable Part of Implementation Methodology

Another, sporadically discussed aspect of ERP class system implementation and maintenance is the issue of cooperation of an implementation team with a customer’s team. Contacts started during a project are usually professional relations lasting for many years (such long-term relations with our customers are what we aim at).

Obviously, we always function in a formal setting, companies are bound by a contract which outlines certain duties etc. However, in it all the most important is cooperation with certain people. Even if we use dedicated tools for, for example, notification services.

The necessity to adjust different personalities and different work cultures sometimes is a stressful factor, but in the first place it is motivator. People are different concerning their characters and personalities: hot-tempered, phlegmatic type, extraverts, introverts, formalists etc. It is necessary to learn to cooperate with each of them, to find a common ground and language. Not only a merit-related knowledge makes the implementation successful, but also the ability to communicate in very different, sometimes difficult, situations.

That is why when we start a pre-implementation analysis at our customer’s, we not only learn about processes or describe requirements, but we also meet people and learn to talk to them. No doubts, the same can be said about the implementation team from the point of view of the customer’s team.

Team Work

When we implement an integrated management system, team work is the basis. Similarly, as separate elements of such a system have to cooperate smoothly, so have to cooperate team members. Differences in characters and personalities are visible here again.

Different methodologies of designing enable fitting each person in a project, however, own (sometimes inborn, sometimes learnt to a greater extent) ability to cooperate with others is a greatly valued and need characteristics.

Taking into consideration what was written earlier about individual work and development, we can say that an ideal team member is a team individualist. Which means someone who joins the ability to work in a team with their own, individual activity.

Summarizing Shortly

Modern Information Technologies to great extent aim at automation of many processes connected with widely understood enterprise management. Automation often means limitation of human participation in the process. Thankfully, an ERP system implementation  is still mainly work among and with people. It is often the most interesting and “exciting” side of a project.