While most discussions about successful implementation of enterprise software focus on the critical tasks to be completed – training, testing, and data migration – the biggest obstacle to successful enterprise software implementation is getting key resources engaged and keeping them focused and energized enough to push the project across the finish line.
It is very common for there to be a lot of energy and enthusiasm from project team members when a new implementation project kicks off. However, as things continue to move forward – generally somewhere in the 90-120 day range of the project – things can begin to bog down. People have been working on the project for a sufficient period of time so the energy and excitement that they felt day 1 when the project kickoff occurred has worn off. And, by this point in the project, they have come to the realization that there is still a lot of hard work ahead of them to see the project through to success.
Some people continue to focus and grind out the days keeping an eye on the goal. Others become distracted and gravitate back to old habits and tasks that may seem urgent at the moment but will not be beneficial to helping get their company to the new software platform. Without an outside impetus to continue to move the team forward, things will stagnate. Then, there will be an epiphany some 30-60 days before a desired production go-live date when it is realized that 80% of the project time line is completed, and 50% of the work tasks remain. Too many times, the project team has become so blinded that they don’t even realize they have this amount of work to complete for a successful go-live.
So, what’s the remedy to this situation – to keep things from bogging down to the point where project success is in jeopardy? The answer is two fold.
First, it is imperative to keep the finish line in mind in some concrete manner. Discussing the objectives simply doesn’t make things vivid enough to keep the organization focused. Rather, making the objectives visual in some manner – with pictures and images that depict where the business will be after the project go-live date – will keep the goals of the organization much more alive and real to project team members.
The second, in addition to having the project manager monitor tasks and project progress, one can establish and monitor a project morale barometer – some means to measure how resources are feeling about the project and how engaged they are in completing their assigned tasks in a timely and high-quality manner. When things start to slip, there needs to be an action taken that intentionally breathes new life back into the project team member(s) who are struggling.
The sooner it is determined that the project morale barometer is starting to slip, the better the odds that taking appropriate actions will resolve matters and keep the project on track. Making minor course corrections during the project will keep the team moving toward the same goal. Left unchecked, even a minor deviation will cause the team to be miles off target several months down the road when it had intended to be ready to go-live with the software.
In conclusion, if project focus and morale are properly maintained throughout the software implementation process, then the customer should expect to have a highly successful go-live experience.