Have you ever implemented a project or application that was continually delayed for one reason or another? Maybe the project simply was abandoned? There are many factors that can be the root of either of these situations. All parties involved must consciously strive to layout the timelines and phases that make sense for implementing in order to meet the agreed upon go live dates.
Let’s identify some of those root causes for delay, and possible failure, so you can avoid them and ultimately succeed.
First and foremost, the implementation takes dedication from both the vendor and the customer. Without both parties’ commitment, the process will get off track. The customer should have a lead for each area related to the implementation and another project lead to pull all of those involved together. The project lead should be someone who can keep everyone on track and call meetings to strategize how to get back on track should that occur.
Also, the customer should confirm that their team is committed to the project with complete buy in. Remind those who seem apprehensive that often change is good, and there is more than one way to achieve the same results. Encourage your implementation team members to keep an open mind - try the proposed methods and see if the end result is not better than the current process.
Let’s look at some items that may cause the project to delay.
- Failing to get all of the company’s needs out on the table in the beginning - This process should be discussed in the beginning so any customization programs are completed timely. Discovery phase is critical to both the vendor and the customer.
- Unique situations related to processing payroll, time and attendance, and human resources - Think about the day to day processes, calculations, reports, government reporting, etc.
- Failure on the part of the key user(s) to contribute - The discovery, and implementation/training sessions are not optional. Everyone is busy, but this is worth the interruption to everyone’s normal schedule.
- Too much history is converted - First, the conversion processes take longer to run. Next, an existing application may be setup differently than the new, resulting in many hours of reconciliation to confirm the converted new information is correct. All years converted need to be balanced. Again, take time on the front end to weigh risks and benefits of how much data to convert from an old system to the new one.
- Timelines are poorly defined and don’t keep the project on track - If anyone on the project fails to complete their task by its deadline, the project may delay. However, this is where the project lead needs to help determine why. Is it because there is more information that was anticipated? Is it because someone simply did not work on the project? Is it because the current work load will not allow the needed time?
In case of a delay, the team lead needs to get everyone back on track. Keep a Risk Log to record unexpected needs that were overlooked in initial discovery. Evaluate the Risk Log regularly and determine your course of action for implementation progress.
- Can you continue with the original schedule?
- Can you make minimal changes by adding extra implementation sessions or team meetings to the original schedule and stay on track?
- Do you need to stop to gather additional data and revamp the schedule completely?
- Can you continue on schedule, but add some additional custom programs to handle things that were not anticipated in the initial plan?
Remember that implementation is a process. It is not a single step. It is important to set expectations in the beginning of the project by telling the team the best case scenario, the worst case scenario, and what is most likely to happen. No one likes surprises, but never abandon flexibility!