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Implementing an SFA solution. Part III

Plan ahead and use a full project management team!

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Avoid situations that will drive you towards failure. Tight deadlines that cannot be reached, addressing overly complex issues at the beginning of the project, combining IT changes with business changes that will affect the day to day activities of users, are poor choices and should be avoided. Try to work around such issues that are causing risks to project plans. Break down the project into smaller phases and deliver them in a larger time plan. This way the project rollout starts faster, while at the same time minimizing risks. Address complex issues in later project phases, or in separate projects. Apply business changes gradually, so that everyday work is less affected. Having a plan based on such positive mentality will create a foundation for successful SFA implementations and IT projects.

Make sure the project manager has enough authority and expertise to drive the project. It is especially useful when project managers can challenge project sponsors about their requirements. Experienced project managers in IT projects, who also know how the company they work for operates, can detect requirements that are not important business needs and might affect the success of a project, and challenge them effectively. This minimizes risks and creates better chances for the project to succeed.

Require representatives from all teams and departments affected by the project to be part of the project team and sponsoring the project. This is especially important in the first phases of the project, during planning and design. This way, all aspects of the project will be addressed and all teams’ needs will be represented in the design. This also builds better commitment to the project by all the teams.

Make educated choices. Ask around. Talk to people of similar companies to the one you are representing that have worked with the prospective suppliers and gather information about projects they have worked on in the past, so you can have an evaluation of their effectiveness. Selecting a supplier should be a matter decided by cost but also effectiveness.

Gather information about similar projects that have been implemented in the past inside the company you represent, or in similar companies if you have such access. Which were the risks addressed in those? What were the lessons learned? Companies tend to repeat their past mistakes, but you can overcome this by examining previous projects and avoiding to fall in the same missteps.

Identify and address risks before they become failures. Sticking to the project plan is not always feasible. The fact that this might happen should be visible to the project manager before the situation occurs. Effectively handling risks by pushing suppliers and managing the situation inside the company is of utmost importance. This will minimize the effect of any delay that occurs.