In Praise of ERP Architects

Why do sophisticated ERP projects require an “ERP Architect”? And why are ERP Architects the difference between sitting at the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby on either Secretariat or on a camel?

Think about your current ERP implementation or any other that you have been associated with.

I will wait a minute for the dull ache behind your eyes to subside.

Do your memories include any meetings where there was a clear visionary leader that understood the “big strategic picture” and was able to keep the team focused on that goal instead of mired in endless minutia?

Of course you don’t.

What you do remember is an endless series of long forgotten meetings with endless debate over tiny and often mostly irrelevant details.

In a previous post I raised the topic of ERP Architects and why they are important, check out Does Your ERP Implementation Look Like This?

Quick re-cap: Everyone sets out to design the Secretariat of ERP implementations but because “Camels are Horses designed by Committees”, everyone ends up with some version of the following:

Goofy Camel - Secretariat 

ERP Architects exist but they are rare. Rarer is the company that has the self-awareness and ability to hire and follow an architect.

But what are the skill sets of great ERP Architects? In my experience they have the following abilities:

  • Functional – be able to process transactions in most major functional areas of the application.
  • Data – full understanding of the data structure underlying the application.
  • Financial – ability to understand and trace the general ledger impact of all major transactions in the application.
  • Technical – understand the position and function of the application in the Microsoft technology stack.
  • Experience – approach or exceed Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule in both new and challenged implementations in a wide range of businesses small and large.


But most of all a great ERP architect has to be able to combine all of these skills in a seamless ability to see the forest for the trees. All ERP projects are a combination of hundreds of “critical requirements”. The ability to ignore the constant noise and focus what is important is the key.

The great ERP Architect is able to eliminate the lack of strategic focus that plagues large ERP implementations.

In our next post we will look at how great ERP Architecture, or the lack of same, influenced actual projects.


If your current or planned Microsoft Dynamics AX project can benefit from an ERP Architect please contact us. TurnOnDynamics specializes in providing exceptional client side services for complex and challenged implementations.

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