It is people that determine the success or otherwise of a project, not the technology. Granted, there are rare cases where a project stalls due to a technical issue, but in most cases, people determine success or otherwise.

In a recent request for tender for an ERP upgrade, the customer requested “please include the issues you most frequently encounter when upgrading an ERP site, the associated ramifications, and how they can be avoided or mitigated”.

What a great question.

To answer the question, the sales team surveyed our consulting team. Normally we would review project documentation, however by surveying the consulting team we got back some surprising results that are not always obvious in the written reports.

It is all about the people.

The responses ranged from significant to the not so serious, but it was fundamentally about how people were included within and interacted with the project. One of the less profound examples, but vital to success, is about planned versus actual availability of people to the project. Ensuring resources do not have annual leave when required on a project, is step one. It could be necessary to ensure that a person’s ‘day job’ is back filled. If a key project person is responsible for the month end processes and reporting, this will have an impact on the project if the need for month-end responsibilities are not dealt with.

The success of UAT is driven by people, and for effective UAT the team members will need to be trained. People need to be briefed that UAT is serious; UAT determines go/no-go decisions. Therefore, when UAT has not been treated seriously, there are unpleasant and unhelpful project outcomes when issues arise during cut over to live.

Communication across the business is essential. Sometimes an upgrade is treated less seriously than a new project, so the upgrade project may cut corners on issues such as effective communication with, or the training of, people. There will be changes arising from the updated ERP and these changes need to be communicated. The project suffers if the changes are only made obvious during or after go-live.

This is a topic that was discussed both with our consultants and clients, including the senior business leaders responsible for implementing procurement across an organisation. Their combined experiences and insights provided a list of powerful tips to harness success by focussing on people. Whilst these tips were in response to procurement projects, the lessons are applicable to any IT project. As such, we have generalised them for all IT projects.

  • Have a strong governance model in place; the software application is an enterprise tool with far reaching consequences.
  • Hold monthly forums to discuss performance, areas for improvement, and change roadmap.
  • Have an effective new employee training program rather than a quick handover by the person leaving the role.
  • The software application has a large amount of touch points in a business; you need an adequate change management plan for all the different types of users and stakeholders, including suppliers.
  • The general workforce needs to be aligned with the management goals.
  • Get senior management buy-in to drive accountability at local level and they must lead from the front. People are quicker to change when they see their managers changing as well.
  • Involve the business in your UAT to increase buy-in. Purchasing is not a finance function, the business divisions need to engage with the new processes and practices.

People make your organisation successful and different. It is up to you to make sure your people make your IT implementation or upgrade a winner.

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