Is your project faltering or are you struggling to keep the budget under control?
You are not alone. If you feel like you are in that position, then you are probably already starting to think about why this has happened. It could be for so many different reasons that it can be hard to figure out where it is going wrong.
In this blog, Kath Ditchfield, one of our Project Managers, looks at the four most common reasons that we see for projects faltering, and what you can do about it!
Are you ready?
Maybe your business simply isn’t ready for an ERP project yet because you don’t have your critical business processes documented – something that you really should have in place if you are upgrading or replacing any or all of your business systems.
Of course, this could be one of the last things that you think about. How many of us spend most of our time just doing our job, rather than thinking about what it entails and how we might document that? We would expect that is most of you. However, having your standard operating procedures documented really does help; not only when looking at an ERP project, but also when you have new starters, or you decide to transform a process.
Do you have scope creep?
It could also be that there has been a change in the scope of the project, especially if you don’t have the ‘As is’ documented well as a starting point. Even if you did have the ‘As is’, it’s possible that the budget was underestimated at the outset just because not enough was known about what your requirements really are.
If you don’t have things nailed down when you start, it’s easy for different people to join your project and add their views. This can be useful in ensuring you engage with all stakeholders, but it can also mean that although they may seem tiny suggestions or changes, they can have a massive impact especially when it comes to what you believe the project will cover and what the solution vendor, for example, has agreed to implement.
Who is managing this for you?
There are a lot of other things to consider during an ERP implementation project and one of the key reasons these projects often fail is underestimating just how much time needs to be allocated to managing the project from your own point of view, what that involves, and the skills needed to fulfil that role effectively.
In many cases, the role falls to a senior employee within Finance since they usually have a good knowledge of the whole business, but tend not to have project management experience, at least not of the type or scale needed for a successful ERP implementation.
We also see that some businesses believe they can rely on the Project Manager (PM) from the Vendor or Implementation Partner (IP) to manage all aspects of the project on their behalf. However, they will be concentrating on the technical side of implementing the system from their own point of view and won’t always consider your client side issues such as Change Management or managing your internal resources. They also of course primarily work for the IP, not for you!
What about the cost?
If you haven’t got the previous three points in place, then the chances are the cost of your project could spiral out of control. This is most likely when you are going to start to consider what you can do to bring things back into line. However, whilst it is never too late to do this, it can be harder if you have lost the buy in from the rest of the project team by then. So, we’d urge you to be honest with how things are going before you get to this point!
How an external Project Manager can help
Because of all the issues mentioned above, it is so important to have an experienced PM on your side who will make sure everything is kept on track and take the IP to task if the project looks like slipping.
This PM needs to understand existing processes and how they might need to change to meet both best practices, which should be standard in the new system, and the wider business strategy.
It is unlikely that an existing employee unless hired for this purpose, will have the time, skills and expertise to manage the ERP project effectively and therefore many organisations choose to hire an external specialist to undertake this task.
Why do you need Gradient?
Even if you believe you have someone internally with the right skills, they won’t be able to continue with their normal job whilst also giving enough time to the project, so using a company like Gradient Transforming to provide a client PM for your implementation project can help to prevent the business-as-usual activities from falling behind.
As your client PM, we will work as part of your internal project team to ensure everyone knows what should be done when and will also liaise with the IP’s PM to make sure that any scope or budget creep is avoided. We will also coordinate all end-user and project activities such as user acceptance tests, training and live cutover, leaving you to manage your day to day business, knowing the project governance is in hand.
Gradient Transforming has consultants who are experienced in ERP implementations from both sides. They’ve been involved in implementing ERP systems as the client-side PM as well as managing projects from a vendor or IP perspective in previous roles which means that they know what to look out for to prevent delays and will be able to spot potential issues before it is too late.
Most importantly, as an external resource, we can be fully independent and see the project from a different perspective. As a result, we provide a robust bridge between yourself and the IP, to bring clarity and alignment of purpose.
If you feel like your project is starting to become something that is running away from you or you’re about to begin your implementation journey, why not get in touch? In the first instance, a phone call could be all that you need to make you feel back in control.