What To Look For When Hiring An ERP Project Manager

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According to Gartner, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is both growing in importance and incredibly poorly managed. In its 2016 CIO Survey, the tech research firm found that ERP ranks fourth on the average CIOs’ priority list. Yet Gartner also found, in a separate study, that ERPs are horrifically mishandled. It says,

We estimate that 20% to 25% of ERP projects deliver late and/or over budget, fail to deliver expected benefits, or end up abandoned. A further 50% to 60% are viewed by the organization as compromised in some way, typically due to the erosion of, or the failure to define, expected benefits.

Here, Gartner isn’t talking about all-in-one ERP software, but ERP the postmodern system—or the process of implementing the right software for the right processes at the right time. In other words, “The goal of a postmodern ERP strategy is to use the best applications possible in each particular area, while ensuring they adequately integrate with each other when necessary.”

And, as evidenced above, the need for competent ERP project managers in growing.

There’s only one problem.

Where do you find these niche, qualified candidates?

erp_project_managers

As always, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn about what ERP project managers are, what their job descriptions tend to look like, and what kind of skills they need.

What are ERP Project Managers?

The need for an ERP project management position often creeps up on companies. These companies are often trying to juggle inventory, capabilities, resources, and budgets while forecasting business outcomes, risks, and key scenarios.

These businesses’ processes start to look a lot like this:

gartner_image

An ERP project manager provides leadership as businesses move through this cycle, coordinating maintenance and enhancement efforts to bolster the existing flow of business—largely through an understanding of the business’s resources, knowledge base, and best practices.

The position also, naturally, requires technical skills. Project managers hoping to enter the field must working knowledge of enterprise project management software and project portfolio management software. Some of the more popular software used for this kind of role includes Microsoft Project and Primavera, along with Macola for smaller-sized businesses.

ERP project managers tend to work closely with the business’s leadership, including CIOs, CTOs, CEOs, and COOs, and serve as an expert resource on ERP projects. This is a senior-level position and typically reserved for those with lots of project management experience.

What are ERP Project Managers’ Primary Responsibilities?

When creating a job posting for an ERP project manager, consider these descriptors:

  • Maintains complete authority over the ERP initiative to meet the business’s needs.
  • Provides coaching and leadership to direct reports.
  • Regularly works with senior leadership to implement change management, project planning, resource allocation, steering committee leadership, and team organizational structure management.
  • Controls project scope and risk management.
  • Manages enterprise technical architecture.
  • Communicates project needs regularly and effectively to direct reports and project sponsors.

In terms of structure, ERP project managers report to line of business managers affected by the project, IT associates and managers, stakeholders, the ERP steering committee, and hardware and software service vendors.

What Kind of Experience Should ERP Project Managers Have?

The ideal ERP project manager should have:

  • A strong background in IT and industry-specific work, preferably 10+ years.
  • A successfully completed ERP project in his or her portfolio.
  • Comfort using your business’s ERP and project management software.
  • 3+ years of experience managing midsize to large teams.
  • Comfort advising senior-level management.
  • PMP certification preferred.

What Knowledge and Skills Should ERP Project Managers Have?

When interviewing for the ERP project management position, it’s not enough to just use this template for your hire. Regardless of the size of your company, prioritize strong interpersonal and communication skills and emotional intelligence; you don’t want to hire someone who no one likes working with.

In addition, the project manager should have the ability to:

  • Expertly manage projects and teams.
  • Analyze and understand business requirements along with technical design and implementation.
  • Create and manage project budgets.
  • Provide guidance to management as well as internal and external stakeholders on project status.

What About Pay?

Project manager salaries vary, especially between industries and job requirements. According to Salary.com, the bottom 10% of ERP project managers earn less than $100,653 annually, whereas the top 10% make over $153,267 per year. The median pay is $127,221, though that figure jumps to $138,944 once the cost of an average bonus is factored in.

Anything Else?

This job overview is general in nature and doesn’t cover whether travel will be required or whether telecommuting would be available. You may want to consider these factors when negotiating pay.

Do you think I missed anything about what ERP project managers do? Are you looking to hire an ERP project manager, or want to become one? Let me know in the comments below!

Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Rachel Burger

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Rachel is a former Capterra analyst who covered project management.

Comments

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I would add:
Ability to convince
Comfortable working with senior leaders when those leaders do not agree
Driven to succeed beyond what is seen as reasonable
Genuine desire to learn new concepts and businesses
Ability to show concepts in real terms, to people from bottom to top of organization
Comfort is speaking truth to power
Ability to put project success in front of personal success
Ability to lead senior executives without appearing to do so

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