Home » Business » How to Avoid Implementation Failure [column]

My partner has been researching and dreaming about establishing an information centre that provides adequate information to diners in restaurants, especially menus.His ideas were influenced by the fact that each time we went out to a restaurant we never really had adequate information from the menus being served, the times different meals are served and all the other activities.

So he came up with a design which he has over the years been running by friends, colleagues but has been unable to implement for one reason or the other.

A few months ago someone took up the idea and implemented it and since then they have been reaping huge rewards from this innovativeness.

Many people presume that implementation is easy but it’s not. For any project to succeed, one must have defined clear objectives for implementation.

A successful project is one that achieves its objectives, but it is amazing how many business entities undertake a project with vague, unidentified, immeasurable goals.

Businesses make the mistake of not measuring their objectives

It is very crucial to do so. For a project to be deemed as either successful or unsuccessful, it would require some degree of measurement.

If your company does not do a pre-implementation assessment of critical objectives, it becomes impossible to pinpoint the issues responsible for either success or failure.

Unless the business can identify where and why a project failed, it is likely to experience repeated failures. Sometimes our businesses suffer from failure to review and define the key performance indicators for the company.

It’s amazing how companies implement projects without defining clear metrics.

Unclear metrics or poor metric quality is an often overlooked factor yet this is the only means of judging a system implementation’s failure or success.

When we recently attempted a software implementation at my company, we first did a review and defined our key performance indicators and this helped us to quickly pick up that the project will fail.

We realised that the reason for the failure was that here was an over-customisation of the software particularly during the early implementation phase.

While lack of defined business objectives is tantamount to a sin in business, an equally common reason for failure is planning to customise the selected solution before utilising it in a test environment.

Some organisations have suffered heavily because they failed to realize the need to incentivise employees to use the system.

Possibly the most important single quantitative measure of success is the user adoption rate.

This is largely seen from the number of employees that use a new system. Getting employees to switch to a new system is not always easy.

Companies need to use a combination of rewards and procedures to get employees to buy-in to the project. Get them to appreciate that this is necessary for all personnel, including executives.

Insufficient training and support delivered during key periods can mess up a project.

User adoption rates drop off for a number of reasons, but two of the most important reasons is – lack of training and support prior to and post implementation.

Sometimes this occurs not because there is no training and support, but because it is not provided in the appropriate format.

Another reason for poor buy-in is incomplete or inaccurate data. Marketing cannot direct concerted successful campaigns if the information going to clients is inaccurate.

This is true for both the sales and marketing departments.

Failure to align the business operations of the divisions utilizing the system virtually guarantees the project’s outcome.

Numerical targets exist for each division and these can be contradictory. Unless these areas are aligned harmoniously prior to the project’s initiation, failure is likely.

Not only must operations be aligned across sectors, but they must share consistent processes where those processes interact with the customer.

Each salesperson must perform the same process to take a lead to client in the same manner.

Consistent, aligned processes cannot be translated into system workflow unless they are documented and understood.

Undocumented business practices are unreliable and leave large margins for inefficiency and failure.

Not planning for change and spelling out a specific method of handling each out-of-scope incident can spell doom for a project.

Budget and cost overruns are simple, quantitative evaluations that can be measured easily by objective analysis.

If a project was supposed to be completed within six months, but actually took in excess of a year, users will view it as unsuccessful and become reluctant to associate with the project.

Project duration estimates are exceeded for numerous reasons inadequate resources, timely unavailability of resources, the changing global marketplace, and many others.

Exceeding the budgeted dollar figure for installing and using a system is a result of many factors, but the primary culprit is creeping project scope.

So do yourselves a favour, be very meticulous in your project implementation, failure is certainly not an option these days.

Till next week, may God richly bless you!

Shelter Chieza is an Aisor in Management issues. She can be contacted at shelter.chieza@gmail.com

Source : The Herald

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