Management often bemoans the fact that IT projects fail to be delivered on time and within budget. And the truth is, the IT spending waste that occurs in our industry is at times mind-boggling. We have seen clients ranging in size from $7 million to $650 million in sales all struggling with the same schedule and budget problems as they attempt to implement a new order management system and/or warehouse management systems.
What is at the root of this waste? Its the lack of project management on both the client and the vendor side. Here are some tips based on the lessons weve learned that could help you avoid the same fate with your order management system and implementations.
It starts with the deal. Some projects should simply never be. Usually it begins when management accepts the vendors selling proposal, which turns out to be flawed. Take the case of one of our largest clients: They had been struggling for two years to work with the order management system vendor, basically to rewrite much of the vendors system. The client was determined because there is a huge potential ROI. But while it will was a big deal for the order management system vendor when it is finished, it is taking them off their commercial order management system path. The client should have looked at the proposal more realistically at the start.
1. You have to have a plan. Vendor proposals are full of boilerplate simple task schedules and bar graphs. The real plans for a complex order management system implementation require all the details to be thought out, agreed to and then scheduled. One mistake companies make is that they don't update the plan weekly; they may use it to get started, but then the updating is infrequent. Also, implementation plans often don't take dependencies into account; everybody involved is continually surprised because the major subtasks are not in synch with each other.
2. Who is in charge? Both the client and the vendor have to have a project manager. Too many times the client leaves that up to the vendor and that's a bad idea. For one thing, the vendor doesn't know your business or organization. For another, its expensive. The client needs to be in control of the process and the order management system implementation.
3. How often do you talk? As we all know, order management system projects involve a lot of verbal and written communication, with documents constantly passing back and forth. It would seem on the surface that you are talking many times every day. But thats really not the issue. You should have weekly meetings between the two parties, conducted by the two project managers, reviewing the total project and the schedule and resetting objectives, if necessary. Other critical parties can and should join, if available. Then the two project managers should circulate the updated schedule and meeting notes. Once youre inside 30-45 days, you should be having a brief conversion meeting daily. This is an excellent way for all parties to stay committed to each other and to get the implementation done.
If you commit to follow these basic steps religiously, everything else should fall in line. As a result you'll have a much better chance of finishing your order management system or warehouse management systems project on time and within budget.