The Good, The Bad & The Ugly -Pt 1

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Project Map/Current & Future State Phase:

Written by Declan Carr- IFS Certified Application Consultant – Mitec Consulting Ltd

Most customers that have bought IFS are familiar with the project phases, receiving information about the planned start and finish dates with an estimate of how many workshops are required for each work stream.

However, I am not so sure how many customers fathom the amount of work that is required to successfully complete each stage of the project. Through these series of short blogs, I will suggest how you can ensure for an effective implementation and potentially a more harmonious and efficient project.

Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee this. As with everything we do in life there are circumstances and situations that occur to test our resolve.

THE GOOD

When the project starts there is an air of excitement that the anticipated piece of software is about to take shape. Teams create project names, SharePoint links, workshop plans, participate in the IFS fundamentals etc.

Customers to begin with are normally very eager and the workshops are met with enthusiasm. I can only recommend that this enthusiasm and drive to succeed stays with the project team throughout the project because I know it will be needed!

Key Suggestions:

  • Be prepared (track progress, plan workshops and participate fully)
  • Plans can change (be flexible things will change due to availability)
  • Enjoy the workshops to get the most out of the system
  • Introduce team bonding exercises to build and maintain the relationships internally and with the consultants where appropriate.

THE BAD

This is where the bad habits and expectations differ between the customer project team and those pesky delivery consultants, including myself!

There is a reliance on the project team to work on their own initiative, or to follow the guidance of the consultant when workshops are not taking place to meet the implementation schedule. Therefore, it is common that homework is set (yes, homework!) throughout the delivery phase. Where this is not completed or even where workshops are not attended, the project is negatively affected.

This is normally down to one reason, “The Business Needs Me!”. Often team members are left with having other tasks to fulfil. These vary from having too much administration to do, or still having to complete their normal day-to-day activities on top of the project.

Plan workshops (usually 9.30am-5pm) to allow for employees to be fully engaged and that the correct people are there. The consultant will normally take the lead to produce agendas, but as the customer these could always be amended to suit the needs of the business. Some successful projects I have worked on ran from 9.30am – 4pm. This approach leads to attendees having more focus during the workshop, as they know they have time before and after to handle any issues.

Warning: ‘There is a lot of content to cover during the Map Phase, so this may not be able to occur straight away, but as the project progresses and the workshops are more targeted, this is an option’

Key Suggestions:

  • Backfill in advance where possible. The team are going to provide beautiful tools for the business, empower them to deliver it.
  • Reduce administration tasks. Make use of information supplied by the consultant such as the contact report. Take the time to meet to review the topics or annotate the document.
  • Ensure project members are 100% committed to workshops. The business will need to release employees fully (or as much as possible) from their daily commitments.

THE UGLY

A quote that I heard during my time on the graduate scheme is that:

‘No one likes someone saying that their baby is ugly’ (insert shocked face).

Well it is true! That’s what consultants will occasionally do, not to offend or to cause disagreements, but to provoke the thought of change within the business ‘Why would you do it that way?’.

Now this might seem like a shock, but this is down to one fundamental reason. Consultants are there to challenge and understand, as well as to implement. If the solution is just to implement what you have, why bother? Make use of the consultant’s experience and both the project and the business will benefit.

Remember that not all the project members have a holistic view of the business. They understand their day-to-day and may not have questioned why they perform a process. During workshops those questions will be asked and the one that tends to be of a surprise is; ‘how do you currently perform that (insert process) end-to-end?’ Follow on questions will be along the lines of who is responsible for each activity, do you have limits, tolerances, authorisation levels etc.

Key Suggestions:

  • Plan your business processes either before the project starts or set time during to understand the key flows
  • Embrace change, this is the opportunity to make business process efficient and add in levels of control that may have previously been missing.
  • Question suggestions from consultants to ensure that it is what the business wants.

MY SUMMARY

 The benefits of adopting some or all these suggestions are:

  • The business will understand what is key for its operations and where each workstream will be required to ensure that it is achieved.
  • You will understand and highlight to the project manager where the joint workshops will be beneficial.
  • Decisions will be effective! Without understanding the process, you may be making decisions that restrict the benefits of a different approach.
  • Time and Cost to implement will be reduced. Having a clear vision and a focussed team, away from constant distraction, will ensure the maximum benefit is achieved from the workshops.

To discuss how Mitec can help you navigate your implementation of IFS Applications to avoid these challenges, contact us today on 01772 278088 or enquires@mitecconsulting.co.uk