The key of managing an IT System implementation project is the ability of managing the human behaviors associated with the project which are heavily affected by how clear the stakeholders are seeing things and their sense of urgency. The project outcome will be heavily influenced by the project size and schedule in the following ways:
- The bigger the project, the harder to list out all the exact tasks that need to be done and will result in more vague and missing tasks in the project plan.
- The longer the project schedule, the less sense of urgency people will have since people see that the final deadline is further away and will result in the higher risk of the project.
- The more interdependencies and more A awaiting B, B awaiting C and C awaiting A, the more people feel that they aren’t on critical path and will result in the higher chance of project failure.
- The more lingering of project decisions, the less sense of urgency people will have.
- The bigger the project and the longer the project schedule, the harder to control the boundary of the deliverables of the project since stakeholders see that the project has a lot of time and resources and will result in the higher risk of the project.
- The longer the project schedule, the higher chance of changes in business, organization, people and people’s ideas and will result in higher chance of out-of-control of the project.
Therefore, a larger or longer schedule project often results in less clear cause-and-effect relationships in the project plan and less mental focus and less sense of urgency in the project team. The key to make an IT system implementation project successful is to break a large project artfully into meaningful increments or iterations and partition the team in the way that each sub-team can focus on only one increment at any given time.
For each manageable size system implementation project, increment or iteration, the 8Manage implementation methodology which is based on the following 5 principles to reduce complexities, increase insights and control execution can be used:
- Requirements readiness analysis and management
- High level understanding of the big picture and total job and incremental understanding of details and necessary tradeoff’s
- Structural approach to architecture and functional analysis
- Iterative and shortest path planning
- Structural approach to execution
Requirements Readiness Analysis & Management
The key most thing to control a system implementation project is its requirements readiness. Some people have the wrong concept that since the requirements of a system implementation project will almost certain be changed and therefore the requirements readiness analysis is unimportant. The requirements of any system implementation project at the beginning are never 100% or seldom even 90% ready, but if the project requirements are less than 30% ready, then the project plan will be close to random. The requirements readiness analysis is the most important risk analysis of a system implementation project.
The requirements readiness analysis involves the system implementation team dividing the project requirements into the following categories and assess the importance of the features to the stakeholders:
- Signed off features in written form that the user groups and system implementation team having no problem of agreeing when these features will be done
- Verbally agreed features that the user groups and system implementation team having no problem of agreeing when these features will be done
- Signed off features in written form that the user groups and system implementation team having problems of agreeing when these features will be done
- Verbally agreed features that the user groups and system implementation team will having problems of agreeing when these features will be done
- Vaguely described needed features but the user groups can’t articulated clearly
- Vaguely described nice-to-have features and the user groups can’t articulated clearly
- Not yet mentioned features that some user group members would want later on
The system implementation team will need to make the conscious efforts to surface the requirements associated with (d), (e), (f) and (g) since those requirements are generally hidden at the beginning of a system implementation project. The more that the system implementation team can surface those requirements upfront, the higher chance that the system implementation team can devise ways to manage their associated risks.
If the sum of the scores of importance from (d), (e), (f) and (g) is larger than the sum of the scores of importance of (a), (b) and (c), the project will have the very high chance of out-of-control during execution.
Architectural & Functional Analysis
The architectural analysis involves the mapping and restructuring of the following real-life structures to the system structures:
- Organization Breakdown Structure (OBS)
- Product-Material Breakdown Structure (PMBS)
- Contract-Work-Delivery Breakdown Structure (CWDBS)
- Financial Breakdown Structure (FBS)
- Hardware-Network-Software Structure (Systems Architecture)
The architectural analysis and design is crucial to the adequacy , efficiency and flexibility of the result system to the organization. Policies and controls work according to the structures and data from lowest level of the structures will be aggregate up to the top level of the structure in real-time so that advanced enterprise overseeing functions such as real-time business map and dashboards will provide the adequate views to the targeted audience.
The 8Manage Implementation Methodology mandates architectural review from the senior architects to ensure robustness and adequacy of the structural mappings and redesigns.
The functional analysis involves the mapping and redesign of the following real-life policies and processes to the system flows and system input-processing-output:
- Policies & defaults
- Inputs (including external system imports)
- Flows and Functions
- Security and controls
- Displays & Reports (including external system exports)
The functional analysis and design is crucial to the adequacy of the flow and functionality to the users. The result system will support the business and operation flows of the organization adequately if the mapping and design has a high coverage of the important flows of the organization. The result system will be easily to be adapted by the users if the mapping and design cover the details in human factors.
The 8Manage Implementation Methodology mandates the coverage of functional analysis is defined upfront.
Project Planning & Resource Allocation
The first preamble in planning a system implementation project is to ensure the activities such as new business model and flow analysis and Business Process Reengineering (BPR) that need to be done have been done before the start of the system implementation project. A system implementation project will be totally unpredictable and even out-of-control if the above said activities are inter-mixed with the system implementation activities. If the organization makes a conscious decision to do the inter-mixing, it shouldn’t expect that the system implementation project will be predictable.
The second preamble in planning a system implementation project is to ensure the requirements readiness activities mentioned above are done properly.
The third preamble in planning a system implementation project is to ensure the project is in a manageable size. If the project is too large, it must be broken down into manageable increments or iterations.
After the ensuring of the 3 preambles mentioned above, the project team can start doing the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to cover the following major stages of system implementation:
Design and development of customizations and tools (including data migration scripts and external
- Internal system testing
- System installation and initialization
- Data migration (if needed)
- User and administrator training
- User testing & acceptance
- Bug fixes and enhancements
- Parallel run (if needed)
- Knowledge transfer (if needed)
- Cutting over and fallback removal
- Production support (if needed)
The plan should be reviewed and buy-in by all stakeholders and put under change control.
- Design and development of customizations and tools (including data migration scripts and external
Visible Project Execution & Change Control
The 8Manage Implementation Methodology mandates the use of the 8Manage PM tool to track system implementation activities. The agility of information and transparency provided by 8Manage PM tool will make people more aware of the problems, their causes and who is accountable. When information is available to all stakeholders in the efficient manner and stakeholders can see clearly who are accountable, the responsible parties tend to pay more attention.
The 8Manage Implementation Methodology mandates the system implementation project plan is put under strict change and the change control process is show in the diagram on the right. The 8Manage Change Management tool can track impact of each individual change to the project and also aggregated impact of the collection of changes to the project.