On any complex ERP project the risk is not if you will encounter conflict but when you will encounter it. Conflict on a project is imminent and if handled and facilitated correctly can lead to the surfacing of new ideas for the issues on hand. Therefore, some conflict can lead to actually improving your project delivery.
Some major contentious issues that lead to conflict on an ERP project are:
Scheduling & Prioritizing Conflict: Everyone is expected to try and run multiple projects concurrently. The Executive team in your organization decides the project priority but the Project Manager (PM) decides the task priority within each project. This is one of the most common conflicts where the team delivering the project tasks is not clear on what is important and what needs to wait. In this instance the team will make an educated guess on the prioritization which can be a complete opposite of reality. Here the PM needs to have a clearly laid out timeline and continuously share with the team to educate them on every changing priorities.
The People Factor: To me this is the second most common reason for conflict on my projects. Different members of the team bring different personalities to the table and their personalities brings a different sense of importance and priorities. I have found myself telling team members that having an ego is not a bad thing but when on a project please check that ego at the door. Once the team understands that they are not bigger than the project they always come around and realize the benefits of a cohesive team but when they don’t you have to quickly look for members that do.
Communication Factor: Organizations today still follow the Functional organizational structure. Therefore, a single team member will 2 or more people to whom they must report other than the PM. This causes much confusion where direction and prioritization comes from different people within the same organization. The Project Manager is the responsible person here that has to weed through the noise and identify what is important and relay to the rest of the team. With people inundated with emails it is very difficult to identify what is and is not important. The PM must lay down the communication protocols early on in the project to avoid this conflict.
Scope & Expectation Conflict: Another common reason for conflict is when you as the client have a completely different perspective on project scope compared to your vendor. Again, it is the responsibility of the Project Manager to ensure scope and expectations are constantly kept under check and any possible changes are readily shared with the team and then with the client. A solid change control methodology must be in place to avoid or alleviate this situation.
My personal methodology to resolving conflict is to start by identifying that there is a problem and then sharing this problem with the people involved in the conflict. Active listening is the second step towards resolving this conflict, listening often leads to the cause of the conflict. Respectful dialogue is a must to arriving at a solution. More often than not we find a lot of finger pointing and the blame game which, in reality never solves the problem at hand. I go back to my comment about checking your ego at the door. Try that and see if it help you, I know it helps me.
AMIT TRASI | Project Manager
Amit is responsible for institutionalizing project management governance at KTL to streamline ERP implementations. With over 15 years of technology experience as a software developer, project manager, and program manager, Amit has managed end-to-end ERP implementations with Dynamics NAV and GP as well as POS implementation with e-Commerce front end. He holds extensive experience deploying POS and ERP applications at non-profits, theme parks, and museums across the United States. Amit joined KTL in October of 2013 and holds an MBA in Information Systems as well as holding a Project Management Professional certificate.