News & Blogs

What's really behind a successful implementation? Technology, or people?

There's a lot of talk about what it takes to make your technology implementation a success. In truth, it's never just one thing, but a mix of factors including solutions, outcomes, budgets, processes, timing, partnerships, and methodologies. And people.

I am a chemical engineer by profession with a background in the design and operation of major manufacturing plants. While I can talk about the costs and technical aspects of an ERP project implementation, I'm a firm believer that the people are the most important project asset, irrespective of the technology selected. They are the 'make or break' factor.

But getting the best out of your people and team doesn't just happen. It requires careful consideration and strategic planning.

Put your best team forward

Our customers rightly expect that our implementation team will be made up of our best people - our 'A-team'. However, in an ideal world, the same degree of rigorous scrutiny that's applied to the certifications and experience of our consultants should also apply to your own project team.

A successful implementation requires that everyone - on both sides - is well equipped to undertake the project demands. After all, if one side fails, we all fail.

If you want a successful project outcome and a robust business solution, then enrol the help of your internal superstars. That way, we collectively end up with an A++ team.

Plan to be committed

If you haven't been through an implementation project, then it's easy to be caught out. I often see project leads underestimating the commitment required from their team for the duration of the implementation. Setting the expectation that team members only need to allow for 15% of every other working day, or a couple of sessions a week, to make a valid and valuable contribution, just isn't going to cut it.

It's important to be pragmatic and realistic about the skills and time needed to be successful. The input of your internal subject matter experts and users is essential to ensure that the solution achieves your business outcomes. If you don't know how much time to budget on, consult your partner!

Pay attention to the weakest link

What happens when one of your team members (or one of ours) isn't pulling their weight? And is one person's lack of performance of any real consequence? The answer is an unequivocal 'yes'.
A single under-performing team member can have a significant impact on the deadline, the cost, and the quality of the end solution. As we are prescriptive around task management, dates, and delivery, anyone not performing to expectation sticks out like a sore thumb. We always have an escalation process within the project, so if it's someone on either team, we quickly manage the situation. We won't risk our reputation or the success of your project.

Renegade team members are also a concern. Making independent decisions which override the needs of other stakeholders can result in a review, and the entire project can grind to an expensive halt.

Set expectations

So, whose role is it to set expectations?
This is a conversation that needs to take place between you and us. From our vantage point, we know you expect us to do our jobs because scope and deliverables are usually clearly documented. And that's as it should be. But we also expect you to uphold your side. As I mentioned before, if one side fails, we all fail.

The initial planning meetings to discuss teams and tasks results in an agreement which goes into the "project charter" (or similar, depending on the type of implementation methodology). We do this before anything else as we believe that we need to be proactive about making sure every requirement which contributes to the end project is completed.
Note: Fusion5 undertook a study a few years ago, and produced a guideline document outlining how to prepare for an implementation, what your team should look like, and how to allocate tasks and responsibilities.