After 25 years of implementing ERP solutions, I have had countless discussions about the successes and failures of various projects. Each project has unique characteristics, so no two are ever alike, but there are many common themes for both success and failure.
When talking about success, the common themes are planning, communication, realistic expectations, a great project team, and of course the executive level support needed to make the project a reality. When talking about failures, the lack of each of those comes up often along with things like changing priorities, lack of a committed team, insufficient budget and even something as simple as poor management.
We can all relate to those and very likely provide specific examples from our own experience. I recently read an article over at HBR that talks more about the elements on the periphery of every project that can impact your success or failure. In other words, there is a lot more to it than simple time and budget constraints. Team dynamics, for instance, play an important part and I talk to my customers often about carefully choosing the best project team. Here at MIPRO, we often talk often about the dynamics of “who” the project manager is and what it means to the company and project. Internally, we take a significant amount of time to talk about the desired outcomes and how to measure those outcomes before the project begins. It reminds me of a saying from my father: “Measure once, cut twice – measure twice, cut once.”
There are times when wandering aimlessly across the country with little or no thought about where you are going is relaxing (my father used to say, “Get in the car because we’re going for a ride”). Your six-figure ERP project is not one of those places. The previously-linked article by Gretchen Gavett is a must read if you are about to start a project. The insights she brings may just separate your project from many of the stories we have all read before.
Remember the periphery — a lot of stuff happens there. Or, as the old saying goes, the gods live in the details.