Implementing a package can be a traumatic affair for both the customer and
the vendor. Get it wrong and the vendor may get paid late or have to resort to
lawyers to get paid and tarnish their reputation. For the company the new
package may not work the way they expected, be late or cost a more than budgeted
for and take management will take their eye off running their business.
Recently a client asked me what I would consider to be the five most
important things one should consider before embarking on an implementation.
This isn't a simple question, although there are many factors to think about
after some consideration for me the top five are way ahead of the others.
My top five factors to consider would be:
1. Set up a Project Board, 2. Secure the resources, 3. Complete the
GAP Analysis, 4. Have detailed Cut Over Plans, 5. Train the users.
Taking each one in turn:
The Project Board The correct set up and operation of the Project
Board in my view is major factor in the success failure of the project. The
Project Board will consist of the stakeholders, key users and the vendor. The
Project Board is part of the governance of the project. The Project Board will
meet regularly to ensure that the project plans are created and being executed
as planned, moves from stage to stage with all the deliverables being signed off
is resourced properly.
The Resources Three types of resources are absolutely necessary --
end users, change team and technicians.
Early involvement by the end users is absolutely necessary, as they will be
the ones living with the system for hopefully many years to come. They will
want to feel involved in its implementation. Buy in from the end users of the
system is absolutely essential if the system is to have a long and stable life
in any organisation.
The Change Team will identify the gaps between the package and the business
requirements, re-engineer some of the businesses process to cope with the
package, train the users to ensure implementation is smooth as possible into the
The Technical Team will prepare the systems environment for the package,
apply any software fixes from the vendor, implement the software in the best way
possible for the organisation set up and tune the software for the particular
GAP Analysis A through gap analysis will identify the gaps between
how the business operates ad its needs against what the package can can't do.
For each gap there will be one of three outcomes which must be recorded and
actioned, GAP must be closed and customised software can be developed close the
gap, GAP must be closed but software cannot be written therefore a workaround is
required, GAP does not need to be closed.
Cut Over Plans Detailed plans need to be developed for cutting
over from the old system(s) to the new. Parallel runs of what will happen over
the conversion period using test data, convert and watch for a period after
wards to ensure nothing unexpected happens.
Train Users Well trained users will support and defend the system
on site. Unsupportive users will continually undermine the system and
eventually it will be replaced. Therefore the more effort you put into helping
the users master the system early the better.