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Better Project Practices for 2019

ERP projects are increasingly complex as software vendors provide more functionality and integration points and as more teams work remotely in different time zones. Projects become even more challenging if clients are looking to transform all or parts of their business. So, be sure you’re ready to rock and roll with some siiiiiiiiick best practices.

15 Minutes Of Getting On The Same Page

Get in rhythm by having a stand-up internal meeting each day to determine what is being worked on and any obstacles that need to be addressed. Combine that with a fifteen minute jam sesh to update your weekend status log. Build your EOW report on a per day basis rather than make updates at the end of the week where details might be missed.

“I look to do this on every project. Everyone is so busy with status reports. Really, what they should do is take 15 minutes a day and note what they did. The quality is better on status and it is effortless.”

Extra Time, A Timeless Classic

Track the vendor’s update schedule with your project schedule to understand where additional testing may be needed, especially around User Acceptance Testing. Additionally, build in some cushion based on more challenging areas in the project.

“Depending on the project, a PM knows where it could be challenging, on a gut level. There are always places in the schedule where you can hide a pocket of time. If you end up not needing it, great! You can plan for the known unknowns, like testing around vendor updates that will arrive during the project.  Long and short, no one will be mad when they have a bit of extra time.”

Stop, Collaborate and Listen…

With all the moving parts and players on a project, the PM needs to lead the team (especially in challenging times), listen to all team members, and guide and foster collaboration. Soft skills are often overlooked in the project.

“Who knew Vanilla Ice would provide solid PM advice in the area of soft skills?  A lot of consultants give advice. The bigger skill as the PM is that you really need to understand what everyone is actually saying, whether that is configuration or integration. Sometimes you have to STOP day-to-day work and actually figure it out. Reassess instead of retrench. Are folks actually ready? Is there a real issue with the software? Sometimes 48 hours of meaningful, integrated discussion can save weeks of headaches.”

It’s a Date

It is crucial to properly plan out projects and develop a constant rhythm:

  • Prep Recurring Meeting Dates – create an agenda 1-2 days head of the meeting to keep meetings focused and follow-up with minutes.“Send out the deck early. Give team members time to review. You want them to have ownership. Preparation isn’t just a nice to have, rather, it’s a critical phase. 
  • All Holiday/PTO/blackout dates (month-end close, audits, physical inventory, open enrollment) known ahead of time for proper scheduling and when consultants should be on-site.

    “Don’t step on your own feet. Have a calendar, even if just in SharePoint, OnBase or other collaboration tool. Just use it!”

  • Conduct Readiness Assessments and Cut-over Planning early in the project and build on these areas over time as new details emerge.

    “First, your have a plan and then you add the dates. You gotta understand what cut-over actually means before putting dates on the calendar.”

Do Not Pass Go…

Institute toll-gates within a schedule to ensure proper alignment.

“They always say don’t throw good money after bad. Are we actually signed off? Even the ‘right’ development can be a waste if it occurs without the sign-off of stakeholders. Also, gate processes have to be smart. There could be incongruity on workstreams, and sometimes you suddenly need a lot of flexibility for your phases depending on module progress.”

Celebrate

Celebrate project successes in addition to go-live. Completing a project phase or performing integration testing is a big accomplishment and the team should be recognized for the successes throughout the implementation.

“If the client is doing a good job, we want to recognize that, because this is hard! It’s their project and they should be proud. Project teams should celebrate more than just the go-live. ERP Projects are complex and take up a lot of time. No one realizes the amount of work..”