The 7 Essential Traits of a GREAT ERP Project Coordinator

In the middle of an ERP implementation it is not uncommon for the Project Manager to direct the efforts of between 5 and 15 people on a daily basis.

Things change so rapidly in an implementation that keeping track of every employees efforts in system configuration, testing, process definition and training can be very difficult. Or, put another way, implementation can be an activity akin to juggling cats!

The key is to effectively keep your team moving forward without making a rocket science project out of it.

In my last implementation, just one competent person helped the entire team continue making substantial progress on a daily basis. She was also of special assistance to me as project manager in dealing with the overall management of the project in its many details.

We all know that small and mid-market businesses don’t have a lot of money at their disposal to hire someone for a project that can be viewed as an “overhead” position. However, a justification for someone to coordinate the activities of your ERP implementation while key people tend to revenue generating activities can be made successfully.

The essential traits of a great project coordinator are as follows. I know when you review this list you are going to question whether someone exists that could possibly fit all 7 traits. But I have hired college people repeatedly that do indeed fit nicely into all 7 areas.

This individual must:

Be able to get along well with other people

  • We are definitely talking about a people person here, but more importantly someone that is sincere, unassuming and somewhat easy going. If you have someone like this in the ERP support role, even your team “bulldozer” will think twice about bowling them over.

Have a great work ethic

  • This is a person that comes in early and will work late whenever you ask and whenever they can.
  • This individual will always be able to find something constructive to do.
  • When working, this person will give you 110% of their personal effort.

Good communication skills

  • The ability to speak clearly,
  • Present ideas so that they are easily understood,
  • Someone that can write both formally, proposals etc, and informally in emails.
  • Someone that uses common sense in situations and keeps their head where someone else might get flustered or angry.

Be able to learn quickly and on the fly;

  • This one is pretty self explanatory, given the wild, no two days are ever alike in the world of an ERP implementation scenario.
Possess some trouble shooting skills

While you will help him or her develop these skills, here is what I look for in an individual;

  • The ability to clearly isolate a problem and then test one solution to that problem at a time.
  • The tenacity to not let the problem go.
  • The common sense ability to research the problem.
  • The discipline to document their progress and finally…
  • They will think about the problem day and night until it is resolved

Basic Office application skills including: Excel, PowerPoint, Word and Visio.

  • With a good grasp of these tools, they will be able to electronically create, analyze and communicate thoughts and ideas.

A semester of Project Management and a one each in General and Cost Accounting…

  • With a grasp of cost and general accounting, due diligence can be performed on aspects of the financial aspects of the system such as inventory valuation and product costing.
  • Having some exposure to formal project management will ensure that schedules and resources can be properly maintained.

Once you find this person, look out…here are some of the things they will be able to help you with…

  • Maintaining project and task lists,
  • Setting agendas and keep minutes,
  • Documenting processes, policies and training documents,
  • Testing application modules,
  • Update your new systems security settings and
  • Update “static” data, on and on – way too many to mention.

Where can you find a person like this? One great place is to contact the closest state university and talk to the head of the MIS program. Ask them for recommendations for someone that is either a senior or a recent graduate.

Many of these young people would die for an opportunity to play a key roll in an ERP implementation. What a great way to begin their work experience! This is how I have found all those that inspired this blog post.

The way to verify that a candidate is the type of person as I have described is to give them a try and some rein … let them run with an aspect of the project that you have not been willing to turn over to someone. It’s a leap of faith but something that you have to do.

They won’t understand your confidence in them and will doubt their abilities. Spend, no … invest time in and with them….

When they complete the task given to them, give them another, have more faith in them than they do; keep ahead of them with important tasks.

They will work for you like you have never seen someone work. It is a unique feeling for a young person to be valued, appreciated and trusted in an office environment.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not some super mentor, it’s just that a person like this will energize you as much as you energize them.

There is a symmetry where my coordinator complemented my activities and in many cases picked things up where I had left off. Further a synergy developed where the two of will routinely get more done than what you would have ever considered three people could have accomplished.

This time of year can be perfect in perhaps catching someone finishing up their last semester of their senior year. Don’t wait, contact your local university now.

Give someone a great opportunity and give your project a HUGE boost in productivity. You will never regret it!


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