How to Implement Your Order Management System On Time and Within Budget

Installing a new Order Management System (OMS) is a big financial investment and considerable work for the department managers in your company, in addition to their regular jobs.

Our experience in implementing OMS and from IT industry surveys shows that more than 50% of major IT projects are not installed on-time and within budget. I鈥檓 sure this isn鈥檛 your management team鈥檚 expectations. Here鈥檚 what you can do to improve your success:

路 Set realistic expectations for the project. OMS systems typically take 8 to 12 months to implement. It may take an additional 6 months for the users to fully absorb and gain the functions.

路 Pricing. It鈥檚 every vendor鈥檚 intention to deliver the system at the quoted price. Professional services for modifications, training, file conversion and project management are on a time & material basis generally not fixed price. Being within budget can only happen if you have accurate estimates and efficient use of time.

路 Share project management responsibilities. What are your project management skills? Interview the vendor鈥檚 project manager and team. Together do you have the project management skills to be successful?

路 Don鈥檛 look at an OMS installation as solely an IT project and responsibility. The new OMS is how you鈥檙e going to manage your company; improve people productivity; service the customer; gain key analysis, etc. It takes total buy-in and assigned responsibilities of the department managers not just IT.

路 Detail planning required. Most conversion plans are at too high a level. The project bumps along dealing with tasks and problems as they come up. Insist that your staff and the vendor plan the project at a detailed level so that ALL project tasks are identified with estimates, dependencies and start/end dates. Additionally, what types of skills will be needed for the tasks, the number of hours and team member assignments. Each week, update the work performed, the percent complete and use it to manage the conversion and communicate successes and issues.

路 Openness in communication between team, management and the vendor. It鈥檚 not that people are deceptive. There will be issues like people being behind schedule; problems with modifications and interfaces; testing that is incomplete, etc. Open communication let鈥檚 all stakeholders understand and help with solutions.

路 Sign-off on key deliverables. Key milestones like programming specifications, testing results, conversion results, readiness for 鈥淕o Live鈥, etc. should require formal check points for your company to review the written deliverables and results from the vendor and for you to sign-off. This establishes what the expectations are, the quality of what鈥檚 accomplished and will make you aware early of faulty assumptions.

路 Regular and frequent status reporting. Distribute the plans and updates to all stakeholders. Bi-monthly initially; weekly as you get closer to the 鈥淕o Live鈥 timeframe.

路 Project management tool. You will find it beneficial to manage the project with hundreds to thousands of tasks concurrently with a tool like Microsoft Office Project. However, these tools take time to use proficiently.

Many companies and vendors deliver on-time and within budget. Improving project management will greatly improve your success too. Look for the author鈥檚 additional OMS implementation tips in MCM.

Curt Barry (cbarry@fcbco.com) is president of F. Curtis Barry & Co., a multichannel operations and fulfillment consulting firm.