It's only been a few weeks since I wrote about the importance of executive sponsorship for ERP projects, citing the good example of TNG Worldwide, a company that implemented an SAP ERP system, plus CRM and business intelligence, in eight months. TNG's sponsor was CEO Larry Gaynor, who attended steering committee meetings and wrote about the project on his well-read internal blog.
Pete Martin, CEO of EntryPoint Consulting, TNG's partner in the project, told me the executive sponsor didn't need to be a CEO, but he or she should be an "active and engaged" member of an organization's executive team.
However, when I recently spoke with Bill Allison, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, he suggested support for an ERP project should come from the very top, with a CEO writing the program charter. He said:
The charter is the thing executives need to support. If they didn't author it and don't own it internally, it will be hard for them to understand why they need to be involved at critical points during the program.
ERP projects can lose their direction if folks are confronted with organizational pressures that exceed the leverage they possess. With CEO support, Allison said, "that situation never occurs."
Unfortunately, like many suggested best practices, "It's intuitively obvious, but it can be difficult to execute."