• Karissa Warmack

How To Handle Extreme Changes During the ERP Process

No matter your position on global climate change, few can argue that this winter’s manic mood swings have pushed even the sunniest of dispositions over the edge. Heck, just last weekend, outdoor beer gardens were bursting at seams with folks in tank tops and shorts enjoying pre-summer sunshine and temps of 63 degrees. Today? It’s 7 degrees with ice, fog and snow. Next week, it’s back to blue skies and sunshine. It’s not just Denver. Boston has seesawed between -15 degrees last week to 50 degrees predicted for tomorrow. And poor California has seen nothing but biting cold and rain for a solid 6 days.

Sure, minus the Polar Vortex, there’s certainly some measure of predictability. It will snow in the winter and toast up in the dog days of summer. But extreme weather fluctuations have become far more commonplace - blowing our morning commute, weekend adventures or kid’s soccer games - forcing us to either adapt (skiing to the office, anyone?) or give up (call UHaul – we’re moving).

Which got us thinking…extreme fluctuations are not exclusive to weather. And if you’re a consultant, working with enterprise clients on the daily, you know what we’re talking about. Manic changes can derail the best laid plans (a.k.a. ERP implementations), so it’s best to be prepared. Umbrellas and snow boots not required.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? New Stakeholders!

One of the most important processes in project management is identifying the right stakeholders. After all, the projects are undertaken to fulfill their requirements. So, you’ve done your job. You’ve identified, involved and proactively engaged the right team. They’re completely on board, removing obstacles and rallying others in the organization. The project is progressing nicely…until you have to say goodbye to your project sponsor, say hello to an entirely new set of players and crossing your fingers that the project won’t completely derail. Great project managers plan for the best and prepare for the worst, but it’s tough when it appears you must start over again.

Make it easier by keeping a real-time record of what’s been done, the progress made and the rationale behind agreed upon decisions. ThinkTank Engage keeps a digital record of the process to critical decisions, including version control and documented impacts of the decisions across the business. So, when new stakeholders join the party, you’ll be able to quickly get them up to speed without delaying the path you’ve already set.

Guess What We Want? More, More and More!

The PMBOK® Guide describes scope creep as “adding features and functionality (project scope) without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources, or without customer approval.” It’s the client asking for more, more, more going beyond the original, agreed upon project scope. Yes, changes to project requirements are inevitable to some degree. But the key here is building your plan accordingly. HINT: We wrote a blog specifically on this topic, so click here for the specifics on how to manage!

Guess We’re Gonna Be Late!

We’ve talked before about how mismanaged expectations can tank a project schedule. And it’s true that timeline projections are rarely 100% accurate. After all, successful ERP implementations have endless moving pieces that need to fall into place for a project to remain on schedule. But manic changes to your stakeholders and scope will no doubt impact the schedule, leading to higher costs with the potential to impact the level of the quality of the result.

According to Panorama Consulting Solutions, “The first key to preventing overages is to find software that matches the organization’s needs and only requires customization in areas that provide competitive advantage. The second is to improve processes and ensure end-users and supervisors are well trained, understand the reasoning behind the changes and are held accountable for proper system usage. The third step is to invest in an organizational change management campaign to increase buy-in, boost morale and communicate key messages from executive leadership over the span of the project.”

ThinkTank Engage accelerates key phases of the implementation by bringing prototypes up into the requirements gathering process, so better design decisions are made and impacts to the timeline are significantly reduced.

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