CEO role in ERP implementation inside their organisations is critical and cannot be delegated to other roles in the organisation. In general, and based on our experience, we did not find a successful ERP implementation without sponsorship, leadership and governance from top-level executives like CEOs. As much as some CEOs and directors would like to completely delegate their company ERP implementation to their IT department, it is absolutely critical that executive sponsorship is mandatory, clear and consistent from day one of the ERP project for, without this kind of visible executive sponsorship, ERP implementation failure is a very likely outcome.

Check the ERP Implementation Article on Wikipedia

We believe that the ERP project should be driven by CEOs, business owners and companies top-level executives, as it is very important to them in the first place. Some of the key areas of involvement for a top-level executive or CEO during an ERP system implementation include:

1. Defining ERP implementation success factors. 

Executives need to answer these questions, what is the end goal of the ERP project? and what are the KPIs that will indicate the project’s health?. Definition of success is different for employees based on their roles and responsibilities, so CEOs should clearly define the common meaning of project success and set certain KPIs to help other employees understand the project success factors and how to measure it.

2. Ensuring continued involvement.

Rather than taking a delegation approach and avoiding involvement in the project, executives must ensure that they have regularly scheduled meetings, to stay informed of project status. Frequent briefing allows the top-level high visibility into the project and alerts them to issues as they arise.

3. Monitoring, Tracking and supervision. 

Executives must not follow-up on the project from a distance and listening to employees feedback, they must be aware of project issues and must be able to solve them in a clear and strategic way. The endless discussion about ERP system implementation problems and cross-department issues helps no one. Instead, the escalation process must be properly defined and adhered to, so that executive oversight is available, to avoid any conflict between company departments rules and advice with the solution.

4. Define roles and responsibilities.

Oversight is best provided when the CEO or top-level executive knows exactly who is responsible for what. For example, who is responsible for project budget or change management? Who define the processes and workflow needed for ERP implementation? Who is the business unit’s decision-maker? To maintain executive involvement, the project plan must define the role of each individual including the top-level executives at each stage of the ERP implementation, to be able to achieve successful project implementation.

5. Developing the ERP team and assessing their performance. 

ERP implementation will be managed by a project team, the top-level executive must have clear expectations, milestones and review processes to assess team performance as the project moves along. Developing an ERP project team and focus on their performance from the beginning of the project will strongly participate in ERP implementation project success.

iXDev team had spotted several practices from top-level executives taking the un-involvement approach to an ERP implementation. Whether they see the project as a technical IT project once it involves software application, or not in favour of the changes the system will apply, or have fear and resistance of change, executives who are indifferent and discouraged can play a strong role in the failure of an ERP implementation project. What we have found is that much of this behaviour is due to the fact that executives are unsure exactly what their role in such implementation should be. Good project planning and documentation can alleviate much of this befuddlement by clearly stating expectations, goals, roles and processes.

As a conclusion, The CEO role in ERP implementation project is crucial and cannot be delegated to anyone else inside the organisation.

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