How to Plan and Execute an ERP Program Remotely

How to Plan and Execute an ERP Program Remotely

Having worked in the IT industry for more than a decade, with experience spanning from doing Business Analysis to being a leader in operational and data roles, this was my first time as a Program lead to run a full S/4 Hana implementation remotely for a IT software customer.

The pandemic hit us at the same time we kicked off this program. This meant getting creative in how we manage the program remotely but deliver a quality solution. The scope of this program was to upgrade the existing ECC ERP to S/4 Hana with two key objectives. One was to migrate to an in-memory database with real-time processing and to prepare the company for future acquisitions. A very aggressive timeline for any ERP migration.

From planning to execution these were the key factors for making an ERP program successful with an on-time delivery.


It became exponentially difficult when teams and stakeholders were outside the office. Consistent, clear, and meaningful communication became the priority. Having weekly leadership calls and daily scrum calls helped the teams understand the progress made, blockers, and or risks so that they were communicated to the leadership in a timely fashion to avoid any repercussions. Introducing Microsoft Teams to collaborate helped streamline key milestones around the program.

This especially became useful around User acceptance testing to connect and resolve issues in real-time. Establishing this relationship with a new client required over-communicating and connecting to ensure that credibility is built.

Having a great project kickoff

For a successful execution, it was important to get the program off the ground productively and efficiently from day 1. We had to ensure all the stakeholders, and the entire team, were on the same page with the goals, milestones, their roles, risk & assumptions, change management, and using a draft roadmap review that evolved. We also had to ensure that the aggressive timelines would have full engagement throughout the project.

People skills, mindset, and geographies

Identifying the right people to be part of this program was key in its success. A fully remote program required a team that could be flexible to accommodate different time zones. Blueprinting allowed for interaction between stakeholders and IT teams. Having the right mindset was very important given we were in a very different world with no personal and professional boundaries, and no ability for any face-face meetings. Video conferencing became key to strengthen the connection and collaboration during these meetings

Agile can work with ERP projects

Although running ERP projects in an Agile model is challenging, we found a common ground that worked well for everyone. Having a clear idea project roadmap with sprints aligned made it very easy to follow without having to deal with a lot of ceremonies which could take days and hours of planning.

Above and Beyond

Always ensure that you have a fully engaged leadership team, trust in your constituents and a well-functioning PMO team that focuses on driving all deliverables. Making sure communication breakdowns do not happen are also key to project success. Having now successfully delivered the migration to S4, and working on integrating the acquisitions, I feel that running these programs remotely can be successful when both parties come together with the same zest and focus to make it happen.

I recently met my client team face to face after a whole year and it never felt like we were meeting for the first time. It is fascinating to see how in the worst of times, globally a team can deliver such programs with quality.

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