22 PM NETWORK JANUARY 2017 WWW.PMI.ORG
Andrew Robinson, PMP, is CEO of Robbins Gioia
in Alexandria, Virginia, USA. He has worked in
management consulting for over 25 years and can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Way back in 1970, David Crosby lamented in a song of the times about how—in a moment of weakness—he almost cut his hair. I can
relate. Letting down my guard as COO almost led
to regret. I recently was reviewing the deployment
of an important new financial reporting system
and almost approved launch without first asking
important questions of the project manager—
questions about testing, change management,
training and communications. Luckily, I caught
myself and course-corrected.
As a Project Management Professional (PMP)®, I
was able to realize the error of my ways. But many
senior executives are out there making similar
decisions without the benefit of PMI certification training. So I thought I’d offer a cheat sheet
with the crucial questions to ask while reviewing
enterprise resource planning (ERP) system projects—both development and deployment. They’ll
come in handy in an investment review board setting—and help you remain vigilant.
QUESTIONS FOR DEVELOPMENT
1. How does this project support a strategic goal?
2. Is this system supported by the senior leadership, and are they involved as stakeholders and
accessible to the team?
3. Are you customizing the ERP system more than
15 percent? (Greater than 15 percent customization puts deployment at risk due to increased process complexity. Maintaining software updates can
also be nightmarish.)
4. Are you able to adapt the vendor’s standard
process? (Mandatory legal or statutory require-
ments may make outsized customization inevi-
table and unwieldy.)
5. Did you identify and address all stakeholders and
their requirements? How, who and when? Are all
requirements really needed? Dive deep on this issue.
6. Do you have a plan for testing and time for this
carved out in the development schedule?
If you hear negative responses to any of these
questions, re-evaluate the investment and seriously
consider cutting your losses early. But let’s say
you pass through those wickets successfully. IT is
anxious for deployment. Take a breath and address
the following issues:
1. Talk to me about change management. How will
you achieve enterprise-wide adoption? What are
you doing for training and communications? (If
answers are incomplete, delay the launch!)
2. How will you know you have achieved adoption
and the system is working as planned? How will
performance be measured? (I want to hear about
surveys and metrics.)
3. How can you make sure strategic benefits are
being realized after launch?
Hopefully, answers will be satisfactory and
deployment can proceed. PM
Want to keep an enterprise system project on track?
Don’t forget to ask the right questions.
By Andrew Robinson, PMP
Voices STRATEGY SESSION