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Friday, 02 October 2009 07:51

How to make a software roll-out fail, part 3

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Rolling out a major project (ERP for instance) requires that a lot of complex factors are brought together harmoniously.  However, such a project can be brought down by more mundane choices; here's another common one.

I have written in the past about the "New-Era" project which is now just 4 days from go-live.  Everyone is frantically scrambling to bring it all together...

However, here are a few of the 'issues' that are currently arising.

For whatever reason, the implementation team has done all of their testing using administrative-level accounts.  Oddly, they have been astonished to find that the group of users asked to perform testing this week are reporting that many of the fully-tested systems don't work for them!  There are all kinds of permission problems.

Data cleansing and massaging (based on customer details and current transactions in the outgoing systems for instance) is still on-going.  Trial conversions were done for the Test database but this exposed a lot of issues that are yet to be fully addressed.

Users are continuing to expose major work-flow flaws.  Of course this is common when transitioning to a Big ERP vendor's system; the customer organisation is generally obliged to change it's business practices to those defined by the vendor!

Let me mention a salient point again.  Go-live is in 4 days!

However, these are all symptoms of the real problem I'd like to discuss in this edition of my saga.  Let's call it the "head-in-the-sand" phenomenon.

When there is pressure from above to achieve the pre-announced go-live date (generally because senior managers want to "look good" to their own managers) the project implementation leaders start to ignore bad news and only communicate positives up the chain.

In this instance, the entire low-level workforce is trying their absolute best to bring it together, but they are saying with one clear voice that the system simply isn't ready, yet the only message that the management team is hearing is that the project is proceeding smoothly and that there will be no issues once we roll-over to the new system.

Pray for us, please!

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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