One essential element to good project management is to have critical sign-offs on key deliverables as the project progresses. Through our experience in implementing Order Management Systems (OMS) and work as an expert witness in software litigation, we find that review and sign-offs by management, your team and the vendor’s raises the awareness of the detail plans and results as the project progresses. Much of the success of OMS implementation comes from planning and communication. These major reviews improve the quality of the process and end results.
Here are some major examples:
· Project scope or charter for project: this establishes the objectives and deliverables at a high level; what system(s) will be replaced; what new system (s) to be installed; degree of modification required; schedule; team members and responsibilities; budget by quarter and year; savings and benefits expected; authorization to proceed and management review points, etc.
· Program modifications: ideally done before signing the license and services agreements. Unfortunately, most OMS buyers don’t get this defined and signed off in the selection steps. It’s easy to have faulty assumptions about was verbalized as requirements and what the change might take in terms of work. Modifications can be sources of budget over-runs. Define modifications (e.g. what part of system(s) are affected, any database changes, display and report changes, etc.); estimate in man-hours and dollars; schedule; payment schedule; sign-off by user team and vendor before proceeding.
· Test plan and results: Plan out testing at program, subsystem and total system levels based on modifications. Are you planning a conference room pilot or full systems test? What are the details to be run in this process? How much time is required by various users and IT? This can take several elapsed months. This gives a plan for the vendor’s Quality Control or Test area to proceed from also.
· Conversion plan and results: What files will be automatically converted? The simple – but wrong answer – is all of them. Look at the practicality of writing, testing and converting all the files in the system. A commercial OMS can have hundreds of tables and files from a “S&H table to years of order and return files. Many should be built by manual keying (good training on new system too). What are the existing OMSD’ data integrity issues?
· Readiness for “Go Live”: Are the essential tasks completed? Program modifications; training throughout company and procedures; file conversion testing and sample files; integration readiness; operational responsibilities in place, etc.
· Post implementation audit: 30 to 60 days after the implementation what are the outstanding tasks – both yours and vendors’? Typically, it may take six months past the “Go Live” for the users to fully absorb the new OMS. Often users need further training; completing procedures, program modifications that became a Phase 2, etc. The savings and benefits often come over the longer term. Establish follow up audits to see that the company gains the benefits.
By adhering to these milestone sign-offs, you will uncover faulty assumptions, have more time to correct errors and meet the expectations of management and the users in terms of the project’s goals and implementation experience and quality.