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

Project Recovery in the Real World - Big i Consulting

I have, for the past few months, been engaged in a major MS Dynamics AX 2012 ERP project recovery and I would like to compare and contrast the experiences I have gained with the theoretical article I wrote some time ago.

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Big i Consulting is currently (March 2014) providing integration services for a major European business, and was engaged in May (2013) when the recovery of the whole MS Dynamics AX 2012 ERP project was underway.


The MS Dynamics AX 2012 ERP project is currently over its initial budget and time by significant margins, and although little time has been spent analysing the reasons for this, the usual factors have come into play:

  • 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.

The project recovery was underway when Big i was engaged and the following had already been put in place:

  • Project Governance
  • Project Director (or Executive Sponsor in PRINCE2® terminology)
  • Change Control
  • Issue Management
  • Risk Management
  • QA


The MS Dynamics AX 2012 ERP project has involved significant customisation which has extensively customised the interfaces between MS Dynamics AX 2012 and other legacy systems which will remain:

  • Warehouse Management System
  • Customer & Supplier EDI Systems (Bespoke and Standard)
  • Catalogue Management Systems
  • E-commerce Platforms
  • Extensive bespoke Vendor Management Systems
  • Demand Planning and Forecasting Systems
  • Third Party Carrier Interfaces

The extensive MS Dynamics AX 2012 bespoke work has resulted in the integration work being amongst the last set of deliverable products within the overall development project plan. This area is highly complex, multiply internally and externally dependant and highly sensitive to change within other areas of the MS Dynamics AX 2012 ERP project

Big i were engaged to resolve the problems within the Integration area which were:

  • Poor future visibility of the impact of other areas within Integration
  • Poor project tracking and reporting within the Integration work stream
  • Ongoing slippage within the Integration work stream


The major cause of the previous problems within the Integration work stream have stemmed from poor and overly complex project planning and poor strategic and tactical planning.

Since the option of a project pause, re-plan and restart was not viable within the wider business context, the difficulty of placing the Integration work stream on a firm footing was exaggerated. While continuing to manage the work stream on a day by day basis the following were put into place over a period of a few weeks:

  • Integration Project Strategy
  • Tactical Solutions to deliver the Strategy
  • Simplified Project Plan
  • Management Tracking and Reporting


It is early days for Big i’s involvement with the MS Dynamics AX 2012 ERP project, but so far things have progressed well, with greater control and visibility in this area delivered.

  • A Strategy has aligned the Integration work stream effort with a set of common goals and desired outcomes
  • The Tactical Solutions have been developed and agreed with those within the Integration work stream delivering buy-in
  • The Project Plan has allowed for planning, what if scenarios and the efficient allocation of resource to deliver the Integrations within the wider project time-frame
  • Management Tracking and Reporting has delivered information to the wider project and Project Governance to build confidence and allow for planning of the wider project

There have been the usual problems that any project will suffer, but these have been managed through the usual tools project and programme management offers and the project go live date remains an achievable goal.

It is noteworthy that without the wider context of the recovery work already undertaken in the areas of governance, change, issues, risks and QA the initiatives put in place by Big I would not have been successful.

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.