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Project Management Pitfalls
By Alexander Hankewicz

Through the implementation of enterprise wide systems many organizations have experienced success in transforming their enterprise from a reactionary task driven environment into a modern proactive, cohesive organization which can provide visibility to Senior Management and to customers and suppliers alike. ERP implementations are usually large, complex projects, involving large groups of people and other resources, working together under considerable time pressure and facing many unforeseen developments. Not surprisingly, many of these implementations turn out to be less successful than originally intended. The ERP system implementation in itself is not meant as a panacea for all of the company’s ills, but should be the logical starting point from which to document business processes to define and develop strategies towards managing the organizations resources in both a structured, strategic and collaborative framework.

Shifting Paradigms

In a recent study published by CIO Insight Magazine dated July 2006: What’s the Value of IT? At Many Companies, It’s Just Guesswork

  1. I.T. Professionals responded that nearly 70% of Companies with less then $100, Million U.S.D. annual sales stated: The Pressure to place a dollar value on intangible or “soft benefits” from I.T. investments had increased in recent years.
  2. In the same survey that 83% of firms with annual sales below$500 million U.S.D. that the results of the ROI analysis usually influence I.T. investment spending.
  3. My firm’s CFO is demanding new and improved methods to measure that our I.T. Investment generates business value.

On the basis of this study the argument can be made that unless projects can deliver upon the stated objectives within the project deliverables and under budget then financial approval of not be likely. Furthermore the Project Manager and team have to orient their paradigms to be aligned more on a business model Beyond the technical aspects of technology deployment such as form, fit and function are related change management issues which if not managed as part of the Project Plan can threaten to derail a project in its entirety, the change management issues have become to be known as Critical Success Factors or (CSF’s).

Top Ten Critical Success Factors

In a recent article by the Dutch Consulting Firm Somers & Nelson a study was authored which featured a list of over 21 Critical Success Factors compiled and further ranked by
I.T. professionals in the U.S. whose firms had deployed an ERP system a year earlier Or were about to deploy an ERP system:

  1. Management Support
    Senior Management although providing the authorization for the funding, must be seen playing an active role in providing top –down leadership for the project and participate in key decisions related to the project. Senior Management also has to be viewed as a resource where the PM can turn to leverage stakeholder cooperation and a resource where by requests for resource management can be funneled.

  2. Project Team Knowledge
    Resources within I.T. fields are highly specialized and are scarce frequently resources are contracted for a specific period of time according to both skill set required and availability. The Project Manager has to be able to assess the relative skills sets required within and where they will be required in the project lifecycle. If resources are not available the P.M. has to be able to mentor and encourage and even teach new skills to reach the particular milestone.

  3. Interdepartmental Cooperation
    Most projects have a collaborative requirement and feel to them and the PM has to not only build teams but reach across other departments and conflicting schedules and constraints to generate the cooperation of the resources from other departments.
    The paradox being that the goal in introducing technology is to introduce business functions across several departments in a seamless fashion.

  4. Clear Goals & Objectives
    In the project –mapping process a blueprint is defined and goes through an evolutionary process throughout the project lifecycle and as such goes through stages of identification, validation and refinement before acceptance as a business process model.

  5. Project Management
    The PM has to be aware of many different project management methodologies and may have to select from the particular model which is aligned to the nature of the project scope. The PM also has to have inter-personal skills which cam make decisions, motivate personnel to action and also be able to effectively communicate with all levels of company management. Furthermore the PM must be sensitive to cultural and global differences in work ethic and management styles.

  6. Management of Expectations
    This is an important part of activity throughout the project management lifecycle as expectations by the external vendor could be overstated or Senior Management that is not closely aligned to the project may interpret their own ideas as to what constitute an outcome.

  7. Project Champion
    This is a role usually someone which is on the company Senior Management Team i.e. C.I.O. that not only is the senior voice and face of the project but can champion ideas and deal with concerns that are addressed by the PM and can be communicated to Senior Executive Management for resolution.

  8. Vendor Support
    This is critical to the overall project management model and requires in-depth study as no RFP document can respond to this. The PM and team will have to consult with external users of the system and other client locations of the vendor to evaluate the level of support. Additionally the software vendor unbeknown to the RFP may choose to lower their costs by outsourcing that layer of the project to keep down their costs to optimize profits, This is critical that a stipulation be placed on the RFP which excludes the vendor to outsource that part of the mandate.

  9. Vendor Selection
    The pivotal piece of the Project Management puzzle as this is the solution that everyone has embarked upon and the enterprise is going to align their growth and manage their resources to. Reputation of being a stable product with few releases being produced, a large network of users to refer to and a product which is scalable and does not require a great deal of customization and can be deployed and support

  10. Project Communication
    In today’s project management world where code may be written in India and supported in central America and companies have applications that are used globally. The need to communicate effectively across several levels of management ,in different time zones and to be able to manage priorities is key. In order to adhere to the Project Schedule parts of the project may be outsourced across the globe and across many different departments.
    To unite all these factions together is to hold a scheduled meeting that transcends as many as the time zones, this can be done using tools such as net meeting,or other telephone and visual tools where files can be shared and information across key decision makers can be shared and communicated with. The style of communicating has to also be positive and proactive as it has to always engender the spirit of cooperation and that everyone has a sense of ownership to the projects success.

Don’t forget, you can also check out project management software solutions and get a free shortlist by going to our PPM Evaluation Center.

Reproduced with the expressed permission of Technology Evaluation Centers Inc. Copyright © 2008 Technology Evaluation Centers Inc.

Alexander Hankewicz is a Senior Business Analyst at Technical Evaluation Centers.
He has over fifteen years of I.T. Management Experience in the area of Supply Chain Management Systems, Business Process Re-Engineering, Vendor Management and Project Management for enterprise wide systems for a variety of Fortune 500 Companies Including H.P. Sony Ericsson, Nortel, and Perkins Elmer He has written numerous articles and can be reached at

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