Every project starts with a plan. And when it comes to ERP implementation vendors, some have a plan template in their files that they can whip out and put in place to get the project rolling. But while it’s convenient to have a template at the ready, you may find those boilerplates don’t quite deliver the results you want from your ERP implementation project.
If your ERP project is hitting roadblocks or you aren’t making progress at the rate you hoped, consider these reasons a plan template might set you up for problems.
1 – Templates don’t leverage input from the right team members
Applying standard durations from one organization’s implementation project to the next is a recipe for failure. The same holds true for assigning resources. Your internal experts—the people who will be responsible for executing each task—are your best source of information. But if they aren’t consulted during the plan’s development phase, the accuracy of the plan goes down, stakeholders’ misgivings and distrust of the process go up, and everything from identifying resource conflicts to gauging the project’s progress becomes a guessing game.
2 – Project templates might miss key collaborators
ERP implementations contain a lot of moving parts. Numerous vendors may be involved, plus an array of internal functional groups and other stakeholders, and the list of active participants will likely rotate throughout the project’s lifecycle. Capturing every possible collaborator within a boilerplate plan is nearly impossible. However, those missing pieces of information can mean the difference between efficiently sequencing everyone’s task flows and having critical activities fall through the cracks.
3 – Templates don’t usually contain the right level of granularity
Whether a plan template tracks progress using color codes or good/bad flags, most are too simplistic to give you the visibility you need into the status of your plan. Without a detailed understanding of the health of your ERP implementation project, you run the risk of discovering problems so late in the process that any possible resolution is likely to be expensive and disruptive.
4 – Standardized plans aren’t always realistic or workable
It takes more than a few minutes to develop a workable ERP implementation plan. A template often looks good at first blush and makes everyone feel that things will turn out alright. But without the proper planning techniques and practices, it won’t be long before the veneer of calm cracks and you realize your project is headed for disaster and there’s no hope of meeting your target completion date.
5 – Boilerplate plans don’t encourage engagement or accountability
Because templates don’t use the team’s input as a foundation, your internal group may not feel much allegiance to the plan. If the schedule slips, it’s easy to point the finger at the template and its architect. You might even discover that different functional areas eventually abandon the “official” plan and create their own to compensate for the poor project management practices and unrealistic timelines. Maintaining engagement and accountability—particularly across a long time horizon or if progress begins to falter—is a serious challenge and further reduces the chances of project success.
6 – Vendor-provided templates aren’t designed to keep costs down
The simple truth is that some implementation partners use a cost structure that’s good for them and bad for you. They may have added fees for change orders. Resolving delays or other problems might require additional support and incur extra labor or consultative charges. If this is the case, then there’s no incentive for the vendor to keep the project on track and if a plan isn’t workable it is—at least for them—profitable.
PMAlliance, Inc uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consulting, project management training and project portfolio management.