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I was talking with someone who has worked in Social Housing ICT for over a decade, with various system solutions recently. He had recently been involved in yet another late system implementation and asked me, “Have I ever known any manage to go as per project plan or even just 3 months late”? After I had stopped laughing, I said yes, only one recently! This happens pretty much all the time.
He knew I had been an implementer once and managed a team of them. He also had been involved in one of my old implementations which pretty much went to time. He asked me how I had managed to pull it off and why they often go wrong.
Implementations can easily go adrift with badly trained, inexperienced or poorly disciplined implementers. That can hit profitability of system implementations badly, particularly if the initial sale has not included enough days. For sales people it is tempting to reduce days in the initial sale as it makes it more likely to win an OJEU process. The hope is that any missing days can be mopped up later, at (customer) cost, via Change Control.
Implementers are best motivated or rewarded for completing those days as efficiently as possible. Then they get better at their job. Incentivising implementation teams to ‘sell on’ extra days is generally a recipe for disaster. Short term it looks like it adds additional profitability, but is quite the reverse reputationally. It rewards poor work, which experienced customers generally realise, adding insult to injury. Reputationally its shooting yourself (& your reputation) in the foot.
What can customers do to keep projects on track?
Well, do your best to use the project plan as a living document, would be a good start. Its not just a static appendage to the original contract. Force your supplier to keep up to date with it, revise timescales as things change. Also customers need to keep a tight reign on their own project team. To ensure the right staff attend supplier on-site or config sessions, ensure suppliers are pressed to provide overviews of what future sessions will cover. These can often be delivered too near to scheduled days or often not at all. This is not acceptable.
If this occurs I think its justifiable to be able to cancel a session, without penalty. If your supplier cannot define what the planned session is intended to cover, it should be deferred until they can.
Many projects are allowed to drift for the first few months, the excuse being that “there’s plenty of days in the project”. Lost days like this will no doubt be added on in the end, exaggerating the delays that can occur and potential additional costs. If you think it necessary, agree objectives for each supplier day and rate them when completed, including any follow ups required. Working together as a partnership openly is by far the best policy, to reduce misunderstandings.
Start well and ensure your supplier does too. Start as you mean to go on is the best advice and hopefully it will set the scene for a more successful and on-time project.
Related Post: Are Apps the best way forward for tenant self-service?
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Depeche Mode - Happens All The Time.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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