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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Delivering Healthy Projects: My view

Everyone wants to deliver projects which are healthy and adds value to the customer. That is what each consultant wants when she goes to a customer location to implement a project.

The question is. how do you deliver a healthy project? Is there any secret?

I am giving below some of the tricks that I have learned over my short implementation experience.

During my 10 years experience of delivering full cycle ERP Implementations, I have learned that the trick to deliver a good project is to get the customer involved very early in the project.

In the initial part of any project, the load / effort incurred by the implementer is very high. Most of the time, the customer is not involved, is disinterested or is skeptical about the whole process. In addition, there will be situation where the customer user is simply afraid of the purpose of ERP implementation and will not take any active interest.

As the project progresses, the customer team starts taking some of the load and over a period of time, the share of the load taken by customer increases and the share of the consultant's load reduces. A typical project will look like this.
Normal ERP Implementations

In this case the load of the project shifts from the implementer to the customer somewhere in the middle of the Project. Usually this happens after CRP 2 Demo and before the CRP 3 demo. From the breakeven point onwards, the customer take the responsibility for the delivery of correct data, correcting the implementers process understanding and helping the implementation consultant. After the breakeven point, the implementation teams effort will gradually reduce as shown in the above figure or in some projects will remain at higher level for some time, while the implementation consultant is hand holding the customer user.

However, there can be two major deviations to the above chart. In the first case, the breakeven point is reached much earlier in the cycle. This is very good for the project since, customer is taking the project load very early in the implementation cycle. Such projects invariably are highly successful with delivery of very high quality and the end result is a very satisfied customer. The chart relating to a successful project is shown below.
Highly successful ERP implementations

In the above chart, the load of implementation has shifted to the customer in the month 2 itself.

What are the factors which enable to transfer the load to the customer very early in the project?

First one is the knowledge of the consultant. Any ERP implementation is only as good as the weakest consultant in the team. To successfully implement ERP, it is very important to choose the best consultants. They may be expensive, but the expense is worth the benefit that you will get from a timely and successful implementation. The consultant is very knowledgeable about the customer's business, understands customer's pains and also provides multiple options for any of the issues that the customer may be facing. The customer user on the other hand is characterized by high level of intelligence and willingness to take responsibility and load in the project.

And finally, the anatomy of a failed implementation. This is characterized by very delayed breakeven point. Normally, in such type of projects, the implementation consultants will be spending time by themselves, with hardly any interaction with the customer. The testing in such projects is characterized by creation of a lot of 'TESTCUST', 'TESTITEMS' etc, with the consultant hardly understanding the business of the customer. Normally, the implementation consultant will not be aware of the customer's business and will be a novice / amateur in the use of the application. The chart below shows the life-cycle of such a project.
Failed  ERP Implementations
You can be sure that in such projects we will have finally a very disgruntled and unhappy customer.

That is it !! My views on how to implement a successful project. Hopefully you would have learned something from my experience. Pl. note that above reflect my views and is not based on any scientific concepts of Project Management.


Monica Kanchhal said...

Hey VK ,

Your ERP consulting tips and trades are soemthing i always wanted to jot down . Your points like involving customer from initial phases is absolutly correct. This gives a sense of security and responsibility to customer , makes consultant job easier in terms of gathering information from them and kind of decreasing the resistance of new systems from end users. I am right now going through your other artcles as well. I really like the content , Keep up the good work !!!


V K Ramaswamy said...

Hello Monica
I did not even see this comment till now. Thanks for your inputs. I had lost some focus in this blog over the last two odd years, but have come back with renewed vigour and new ideas.
Hope that you will visit this blog often and give useful inputs like above.