e-Commerce, change management, project & programme management, it, logistics, supply chain & retail

Project Recovery - Big i Consulting

Anecdotally a growing number of major ERP projects are failing and requiring intervention to put them back on track.

Under Construction

ERP projects are often high cost and have significant risk to an organisation implementing them. Failed ERP projects have occasionally had such serious knock on effects that the organisation had not survived the failure. However, failing projects can be recovered.

Recovery Steps

Root Cause Analysis

After dealing with any urgent problems that are threatening the organisation it is important to understand what the reasons for the current failure are. An analysis of the current situation and areas of failure or problems will guide the recovery process. A recent study by PMSolutions identified 5 main reasons:

  • Requirements: Unclear, lack of agreement, lack of priority, contradictory, ambiguous or imprecise.
  • Resources: Lack of resources, resource conflicts, turnover of key resources and poor planning.
  • Schedules: Too tight, unrealistic or overly optimistic.
  • Planning: Insufficient data, missing items, insufficient details and poor estimates.
  • Risks: Unidentified or assumed and not managed.

Project Methodology

Organisations not employing a standard project management methodology were more likely to be troubled by these causes and the impact was likely to be greater. Organisations that have poor or are lacking project governance tended to have projects that were poorly prioritised or not planned.

A key part of the strategy for project recovery is to ensure adequate and robust project governance and the application of a standard project management methodology. PRINCE2® provides a methodology which supports the identified areas of failure and has a principle of tailoring which can be used to put the project back on a firm basis.

Review The Business Case

Begin by examining the business case for the project, ensuring that the project is still valid.

  • Update costs with the current position and forecast costs.
  • Verify the benefits.
  • Revisit the timescales in light of the current situation.
  • Identify major project risks.

Build Robust Project Governance

Assuming there is still a case for the project to continue, pay close attention to the governance of the project.

  • Project board, with a suitable project executive.
  • Stakeholder analysis and engagement.
  • Risk management strategy.
  • Quality management strategy.
  • Communications strategy.

Re-Plan the Project

Use the information gathered so far, including the reasons for previous failures, to re-plan the project. PRINCE2® would indicate that the project plan should be broken into a minimum of 2 Stages, and that only the next stage should be planned in detail. Consider the following when re-planning the project.

  • What has already been delivered. Is it usable, is it fit for purpose?
  • What resources are needed for the project and the next stage?
  • What lessons have been learned from this and other projects?
  • Re-assess risks to ensure that they are documented and managed.
  • Re-assess schedules and timescales ensuring they are realistic.

The Good News

Project recovery interventions are highly successful. Almost three quarters (74%) of troubled projects that underwent a recovery intervention were recovered, with a further 18% still on-going and the results are not yet known.

PMSolutions study

With over 25 years experience in retail systems, ERP, e-commerce, logistics and supply chain Stephen Milner has implemented numerous systems delivering significant business benefits.