Role of Top Management in Successful Implementation of a Foundry ERP
The implementation of a new ERP solution to streamline your foundry operations is far from being just another IT project. As it will impact almost all aspects of your business, the role of top management is really important to ensure successful implementation. What we mean here by “successful implementation” is that: the ERP meets nearly all the objectives of your foundry, implementation deadlines are met and a higher user adoption rate is secured along with a smooth transition throughout the project implementation. Apart from that, achieving business process improvement at multiple levels and accurate analytics (business intelligence) for strategic decision-making are also key incentives.
Therefore, the top management (which usually comprises foundry owners/chairman, board of directors, and key executives like CEO/CFO/VP/GM, etc.) must work hand-in-hand with the ERP solution provider to guarantee the project's success. Let’s look at some points regarding the role of top management in ERP implementation for any foundry and try to understand why they are so important:
5 Key Roles of Top Management in ERP Implementation for Any Foundry:
1. To oversee the involvement of various departments:
Implementing an ERP solution involves people from different departments across your foundry, apart from the supplier of the solution. In a nutshell, top management must oversee the entire project, ensure that the necessary departments and teams are involved properly, and set priorities and realistic deadlines for the implementation. They are also required to validate the end-user feedback and requirements and ensure timely communication of the same to the solution provider.
2. To provide the necessary resources:
Consider a scenario here: Let's suppose the ERP project team has been selected and the implementation has been started by the vendor. A few weeks later, just as they are in the middle of an initial workshop with your team for training, the MD pulls their production team members off the project for two weeks to fulfill the delivery commitment of an unexpected export order. The following month it’s the year-end, so key finance team members of the foundry disappear for three weeks because the CFO needs them. By the end of two months only, your original plan is severely disturbed.
So the question here for any foundry management is: How can the project run smoothly if the necessary resources aren’t made available for data migration or user training? Making resources available by somehow freeing up the team member from such additional responsibilities (during the implementation period only) is one of the key ways, that top management can support an ERP implementation.
3. To approve changes and decisions making:
In a picture-perfect world, ERP implementations would proceed exactly according to the implementation schedule without ever needing any alterations. Unfortunately in any industry, let alone the foundry industry, implementation of a project as large as an ERP is rarely completed without any hiccups. While you can definitely nullify the need for extensive changes through proper planning, there might be some changes in the scope, budget, and/or schedule that invariably require approval of the top management to move ahead. It is also known that, when an important decision requires to be taken, it is escalated to the foundry management only. So, timely approval and decision-making are required in such scenarios to ensure the best course of action for the foundry.
4. To provide direction and show commitment:
It is not only about approving the project budget and being a final point of escalation when things go wrong. The foundry management needs to show strong commitment and discuss clear direction on how this digital transformation will enable the foundry’s long-term strategy and objectives. Assigning the entire responsibility to a single executive like GM/IT manager without proper guidance or communication is one of the major issues. That’s why lack of commitment from top management is often listed as one of the major risk factors for ERP implementation. As a management, it is expected that you are appropriately involved and accessible during the ERP implementation - not only by the software vendor for your vital inputs but also by your foundry people for any feedback/guidance.
5. The final push (Most important):
Before going live, your end-users must test the system for comprehensive assessments of how they will use the system. The vendor may have to fine-tune to fix a few minor problems discovered during this testing, or a few employees may require some additional training due to their limitations — but that’s way better than having users discover problems or show incompetency after you make the system live.
However, what has been observed (more commonly in the foundry industry) is that the vendor successfully completes all the phases (except go-live) of ERP implementation including Requirement Study, Customization, Installation, and even Training, but during the final phase before going live, the bottom level users shows some resistance in putting their extra efforts for data entry and testing. They could make various excuses to avoid changing their legacy practices. Here comes the most important role of management: The final push. Management must encourage (and at the same time strictly demand) all their employees to fully use the new system for some demo entries of their routine work. Management can also ask each user to generate some important reports using the new system so that the users get acquainted with the ERP and gain the required confidence to go live. Ultimately, user adoption is the key to the success of any ERP implementation project.
In short, the successful ERP implementation for any foundry requires more than the involvement of your project team and the solution provider. It also needs the support of higher management throughout the implementation to be really successful and in alignment with their vision.
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