Avoid Deadly Scope Creep!
Runaway expectations can be the death of even the most thoroughly planned ERP projects. With all of the promises that software sales reps make to businesses during the selection process, it's hard not to get carried away. Project teams set out on implementations to tackle a few specific problems, but blinded by the dazzling possibilities of their ERP system, they get carried away with unnecessary customizations and additional features.
By taking on this extra work, your business is likely to incur exorbitant costs and lose focus on the core issues your project was supposed to address. Managing scope creep is always a challenge in software implementations, but it's critical that the project team pays careful attention to projected goals and expectations from the start to the finish of the process. Misaligned expectations will lead to frustration with the software (leading to user abandonment), delays and out-of-control budgets.
Fortunately, there are ways to help your organization eliminate the danger of scope creep from your ERP, and that's what we're here for. Tracking and managing project scope is an integral part of a successful implementation. Take these preventative measures early and often to minimize scope creep and keep your ERP out of the dreaded failure zone.
It takes a strong team to lead your ERP implementation to the finish line. Your team must remain on the same page at all times, using fervent documentation and clear communication to adhere to project objectives. By sticking to project goals, your implementation can stay on track and avoid scope creep.
Additionally, someone on the team should be delegated with the responsibility of monitoring the scope throughout the process. This person will be the first to know the warning signs for scope creep—and can often reign the project back in before it delays your progress. If there is a serious change needed in the enterprise system, that team member will be the one to communicate the new plans to executives and gain their approval. That way, key stakeholders are kept in the loop about the state of the ERP implementation and willing to support new tasks.
To manage scope creep, it's best to develop a plan of attack before the project even begins. Early on, the project team and software stakeholders should be upfront about risks and potential scope creep. Furthermore, you want the same transparency between your business and your consultants. When working with an ERP consultant, carefully review the Statement of Work (SOW) before starting the project. Make sure you understand how all the items will help you achieve business goals.
Additionally, conduct research and interview consultants thoroughly to measure their familiarity with your industry and their ability to maintain project scope. The ideal consultant will clearly share their strategies for managing scope creep before the implementation commences. At Datix, we provide an estimate for how much project management time will be required (based on the modules being implemented) in the Statement of Work. We then review our change control process and communication plan for changes to the original scope with executive sponsors prior to the project kickoff and again with the project team during the project kickoff meeting.
One key tool that you must have in your implementation arsenal to ensure that all changes to the initial scope are documented is the issue changelog. This log is where the implementation project team is responsible for inputting issues, changes or new requirements as they come up throughout the project.
At Datix, we monitor this log constantly and work closely with the client's project manager and executives to address areas of scope expansion on a weekly or as-needed basis and quickly take on any areas of scope creep we might see emerging. At a minimum, we have weekly status meetings to review accomplishments, upcoming milestones, project risks and budget trends. All employees critical to the project must sit in on these meetings and be able to candidly discuss their roles in the implementation and how they have been keeping up with individual goals. Then, they can translate how those goals will contribute to expectations for the project as a whole.
Scope creep often happens because employees fail to communicate roadblocks in their tasks. Although it may be uncomfortable, straightforward conversation is critical when it comes to an ERP project. Your progress and delays should be accurately, thoroughly and consistently tracked in your changelog.
As changes and new requirements arise within the ERP implementation it's imperative that the project team and outside consultants are constantly communicating how these fit in—or don't—with the scope and the impact that they have on the timeline and budget. Sometimes this involves pushing executives to make tough decisions about what is go-live-critical or not. If budgets are tight, prioritize what absolutely must be done before your launch date and what can be completed in the post-implementation stage.
Although no one likes to talk about additional costs, it's highly advisable that your project team doesn't hide from those conversations as they are natural and expected in enterprise software implementations. ERP projects can be huge endeavors, and bumps in the road sometimes occur. The good news? With careful goal documentation and scope checking, your business won't find themselves surprised or disappointed at the conclusion of the project. Instead, executives will be notified of budget changes ahead of time, the reason for those changes and why the project will still be on track to provide all the promised improvements. That way, the project team doesn't come under fire for failed expectations and overrun budgets after it's too late for them to defend themselves, and stakeholders still support the implementation throughout the software's lifetime.
Scope creep can spell the end of your ERP implementation, but if you follow our steps, you can prevent your project from getting out of control and handle changes to your system without putting your investment at risk. To help you manage scope creep and other ERP challenges, contact the experts at Datix. We're an Epicor Platinum Partner with over 20 years of experience in providing manufacturing and distribution solutions. Our proven strategy and commitment to ongoing service and upgrades will ensure you maximize the value of your software. From start to finish, we do whatever it takes to execute superior business solutions within your budget and timeline.
Team up with our experts today to gain an optimal ERP instance!