Posts Tagged Project Plan

Getting System Implementations Right

The challenge

Implementing HR and Payroll systems is a precarious business. Whether you are looking at e-recruitment, training systems, core HR and Payroll, document management, workflow, P11D, talent management or self service solutions, the business environment in which your implementation will take place is complex, evolving, effected by organisational ethos and constantly striving for synergy between the employees’ needs and those of the employing organisation. Throw into this heady mix the divergent temperaments of technologically astute system developers and payroll- or people-focussed system users and the implementation of new software can be quite a challenge…

This is a challenge, however, which offers considerable rewards.

 

The reward

Successful ERP, HR and Payroll implementations can offer:

–          improved organisational morale;

–          increased employee engagement with the processes and objectives of their employer;

–          a shift in the focus of talented staff from admin to strategy;

–          consolidated management information;

–          devolved and more timely input of data;

–          improved business processes;

–          more effective workflow

–          etc

But what is the trick to realising these benefits? What are the ingredients needed to get your system implementation right?

 

A contract that works

A decisive starting point for your implementation is a well formulated contract with the supplier. Useful features of such contracts include:

–          SMART delivery targets

–          A detailed and binding confirmation by your supplier of the extent to which they can meet each and every requirement in your ITT

–          A supplier-incentivising payment profile

–          Penalties for non-performance

–          Defined implementation consultancy and support

–          An agreed change control procedure; and

–          Clear lines of escalation…

If your contract is cursory, vague or simply inadequate, as software and services contracts often are, then you must make sure your project begins with the development of a detailed project charter or Project Initiation Document which both you and your supplier sign up to before work begins. Then, whether you have in your possession a good contract or a good Project Initiation Document, you should keep this in your back pocket at all times – and be ready to call on it at a moment’s notice.

It is essential to ‘work your contract’, making sure your agreed objectives are met and the promised deliverables delivered. This means keeping a tight rein on change control, documenting even honeymoon lapses in supplier performance, and ensuring your supplier is always aware that you expect them to meet both the letter and the spirit of your initial agreement.

 

Manage your supplier

As the saying goes, keep your friends close but your supplier closer. Throughout any software or service implementation it is important to insist on high level supplier representation at Performance Reviews, Steering Group and Project Board meetings. Your supplier’s representatives will far rather get it right, or fix it quick, than explain, face to face, why they got it wrong!

It is important that you own your project’s deliverables; and it is equally important, if your contract permits this, that you maintain some degree of payment leverage. For most suppliers the bottom line is the bottom line. If at all possible, you need to be able to maintain financial leverage up to the last possible moment, otherwise you will find, once the bulk of your payment has arrived in your supplier’s bank account, that their interest in your project rapidly diminishes.

 

Rigorous project management

Of equal importance to supplier management is the management of your own organisation. No matter how tempting it may be, organisations must avoid improving upon their original objectives. Stick to the initial scope of the project and you are far more likely to end up with demonstrable success.

Your project manager must manage your internal stakeholders, keep them informed, and ensure that all those departments or teams effected by your project also recognise their responsibilities towards it. Similarly, your project sponsor must ensure executive level participation, and publicise the executive level commitment to the project.

Communication at all levels is a key ingredient of successful projects.

A strong project team

Your project team will be central to your implementation… and should include:

–          Senior members of the effected departments empowered to make system set-up or business process decisions without recourse to committee

–          Hands-on team members to undertake the non-strategic work; and

–          Supplier-provided consultancy with in-depth knowledge of the system and its implementation.

At various points in the implementation you may also wish to include in the team:

–          Business process analysis and re-engineering expertise

–          An expert on documenting the use of the system

–          Trainers

–          Dedicated resource for project communications; and

–          Super-users who participate in pilot and parallel running.

Further recommendations in regard to the project team are:

–          That core membership of the project team should be dedicated to the project full time

–          That nominated individuals continue to work with the system after project completion, thus benefitting the organisation with the expertise gained during the project; and

–          That a discrete project area is provided for the duration of the project.

A project board or committee should also be convened, inclusive of executive-level representation, senior management from the areas affected (including IT),  and a nominated project sponsor.

 

Other key factors of successful projects

Further recommendations towards ensuring project success:

–          Purchase sufficient expert consultancy for your project, but emphasise skills transfer from consultants to employed staff during the implementation period;

–          Purchase sufficient system training, and also plan for in-house, cascade training where required;

–          Work to a plan and change control any deviation from it;

–          Develop test scripts and test rigorously;

–          Phase your implementation, allowing time to get each phase right;

–          Include pilot or parallel running in any project;

–          Educate stakeholders to expect a productivity dip after system implementation, as the new processes bed-in and familiarity with the system is acquired;

–          Engage with other organisations who use the new system; and

–          Encourage the project team and stakeholders to enjoy and take pride in the project… It’s not every day that you get new toys or the chance to learn new things!

 

A Challenge Successfully Met

I hope these suggestions and tips offer some little guidance toward ensuring that your system implementation is a successful one. If you have other recommendations for increasing the success of ERP, HR or Payroll projects please get in touch via my blog.

In summary, within complex and forward-looking business environments the roll-out of new software or services is a major challenge… but it is a challenge which your organisation can, with a little planning and foresight, successfully and rewardingly meet.

 

Luke Andreski PMI PMP

https://andreskiprojectmanagement.wordpress.com/

www.andreskisolutions.com

 

A version of this article appeared in the respected Digby Morgan Newsletter, Human Resourcefulness

© 2013 Luke Andreski. All rights reserved.

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1 Comment

The Perfect Plan

 

Two fundamental principles which underlie project management methodologies such as PMBOK and PRINCE2 are:

Look before you leap

and

Learn from when you fell.

These principles are elaborated into complex project management ‘envelopes’ surrounding what might be thought of as the delivery activities of the project – the aim being to ensure that these activities are accomplished successfully.

On this basis, I would suggest that the following list details the ideal project management envelope, into which the considerably more detailed delivery elements of any project can be inserted.

Project Assessment

Preliminary meetings

Determine project authority and status

Confirm Project Brief

Authorise Project Initiation

Project Initiation

Initiation Kick-off

Review Project Brief, Bus. Case, Contract, SOW

Identify existing processes and standards

Review political / organisational environment

Stakeholder Interviews and Analysis

Stakeholder analysis

Stakeholder interviews

Produce stakeholder list

Identify and Coordinate Project Initiation and Planning Resource

Agree Resource Reqs for Initiation and Planning Phase

Acquire Resource

Administer Resource

Develop, Sign-off and Publish Project Charter

Develop project charter

Publish draft project charter

Project charter review

Sign-off project charter

Finalise project charter

Sign-off project charter

Project Launch

Plan project kick-off

Project kick-off meeting

Project Planning

Develop Outline Project Management Plan

Project Requirements – Detailed Definition

Develop, Sign Off and Publish Detailed Scope Document

Develop Detailed Project Scope Document

Review Detailed Project Scope

Sign Off Detailed Project Scope

Publish Detailed Project Scope

Develop Work Breakdown Structure

Develop work Breakdown Dictionary

Develop, Sign-off and Publish Detailed Project Plans

Develop Project Schedule

Define Activities

Sequence Activities

Estimate Resource

Estimate Duration

Develop Project Schedule

Estimate Costs and Confirm Budget

Develop Human Resource Plan

Develop Communications Plan

Develop Project Risk Management Plan

Identify Initial Project Risks

Assess and Prioritise Risks

Develop Risk Response Proposals

Develop Risk Management Plan

Review Project Plans

Sign Off Detailed Project Plan

Publish Detailed Project Plan

      

Execute Project Phase 1

Establish Team and Infrastructure

Acquire Full Project Team

Set Up Team Infrastructure

Develop Team

Manage Team

Phase 1 Activities and Deliverables

Perform Work Activity 1

Deliver Work Activity 1 Result

Perform Work Activity n

Deliver Work Activity n Result

Phase 1 Monitoring and Control

Monitor / Control Activities 1 – n

Verify Scope of Activities 1 – n

Control Phase 1 Quality

Control Schedule and Costs

Control Risks

Close Phase 1

Lessons Learnt Meeting

Document Lessons Learnt

Update Project Documents

Sign Off Phase 1 / Authorise Phase 2

Execute Project Phases 1 + n

  

Project Closedown

Lessons Learnt Meeting

Document Lessons Learnt

Contracts Closure

Administrative Closure

The central purpose of all of this detail is to support the key delivery activities. The supposition of project management methodologies such as PRINCE2 and PMBOK is that phases 1 through 1+n will be delivered successfully – on time, on budget and ‘to spec’ – if a framework along the lines detailed above is rigorously applied. This is something with which I largely agree. However, a further and, I believe, utterly crucial requirement for project success is this: no project will be successful without enthusiasm for change, a powerful commitment to the project objectives, and a concern for the people involved in the project and affected by it.

Luke Andreski

www.andreskisolutions.com

© Luke Andreski2012. All rights reserved.

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