Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why do large scale IT projects often fail?

Being in the business of delivering large scale IT projects, in the form of an SAP implementation, we are often scrutinized for our ability to execute, and rightly so...

With that being said we often see the projects given to large system integrators and yet they often lead to overruns of the budget and scheduled plan. Why is that so? We recently completed a complete SAP implementation (FI, CO, SD and MM) in 4 months and came in on budget! Yes it is possible, if you have the right focus.

The overall key to a successful implementation is to align the IT solution with business value.
We do this by focusing our efforts in these 4 areas:
  • Business: Key stakeholders (internal and external) and strategy - Build a strong business case, communicate and collaborate. Have clear objectives with firm scope. Executive sponsorship / ownership needs to be in place.
  • Solution: Expert project and solution talent (both internal and external) - The right resources that know the solution are both business and technical minded, and are engaged for the duration of the project. SMEs (subject matter experts / users) are fully engaged to mold the solution. The technology solution chosen needs to be stable and robust.
  • People: Build execution teams that are aligned with the project goals. Incentivize each team for achieving their goals. A strong project manager is key...
  • Project management: Small target delivery cycles (agile type approach) with strict quality gates. Clear concise reporting on project status, plans and resourcing / timelines.
Focusing on these 4 areas, rather than budget and time-frame will actually give you a better chance of successfully implementing that IT project. One other point to note that a successful project implementation does not necessarily lead to the business value being attained... How is that so?

In order to fully achieve the business benefits / value, following an IT project, you also need to have focused on:
  • Change management - Make sure that the users adopt the new solution and that the organization structure and roles are aligned with the new solution's processes
  • Education - Ensures that the new users are competent in the new solution
We hear many horror stories about SAP implementations and how complex it is to install and how often they fail. My only response to that is to point out that there have also been successful implementations conducted (like the one I mentioned above at the beginning of this article) with that same piece of software. The only difference (since it's the same software) is the team and approach that was chosen to do the implementation...

If you are interested in hearing how we achieved a full SAP implementation in 4 months then just let us know.