In Part I we introduced you to the concept of Project Assurance, the specialized discipline and practice involving independent and objective oversight, specialized experience, and audit skill to assess risk, finance, accounting, compliance, safety, and performance for any major capital expenditure (Source: Wikipedia) that is designed to minimize the risk of projet overruns and failure.
In Part II we noted that Project Assurance is a comprehensive, proactive, and preventative methodology that attempts to go beyond simply addressing tactical issues brought up in methodologies like Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) to address strategic issues in a proactive manner so that potential issues are identified, and mitigated, before they become problems. We also noted that Project Assurance involves conducting a health assessment at six critical points of a project to make sure that the project is on track, the project team is aligned, and the project is still likely to complete on time and on budget. We also described these six health assessments and when they take place.
In this part we relate Project Assurance to your Supply Management Solution Acquisition project and how an outside (Project Assurance) Expert can keep your project on track and your risk of failure or excessive cost-overruns low. As with the last post, we’ll take it in phases.
- Strategy (Expectation Management)
As Supply Management is still an emerging discipline in many organizations, where each CXO and stakeholder will have a different understanding of Operations, Procurement, Logistics, and what current Supply Management Technology will have to offer, each team stakeholder will have a different expectation of what the outcomes of the project will be. These expectations will need to be aligned and managed before the project continues. The Project Assurance Specialist will need to make sure expectations are suitably aligned and that the goals and timelines are realistic before the project succeeds.
- Acquisition (Close the Procurement Gap)
The RFP responses received by the organization will be thick, slightly confusing, and full of promises — not all of which the vendors will be able to keep in the required timeframe. Only an outside expert, with knowledge of the space and the solutions and what to look for, will know how to evaluate the responses against the RFP, and the strategy that resulted from the first phase.
- Planning (Align the Troops)
Once the vendors are selected, and before detailed design (which will specify which parts of the out-of-the-box solution will be purchased and what custom extensions and integrations will be needed), the project is planned. Due to a lack of understanding within the organization of what is really required to effectively design, implement, and train users on a new platform, some organizations will accept a vendor’s overly ambitious timelines while others will add unnecessary padding. And most will overlook the indirect impacts of adopting a new solution and the secondary processes that will be impacted and that could be impacted in a good way. A Project Assurance Specialist will be able to identify these process and make sure that all of the processes that should be addressed are indeed addressed.
- Design (Delineate the Design Disconnect)
Vendors, especially those paid by the consulting hour, will often want to overdesign a solution while buyers, who will want to minimize the cost, will often try to strip down the design too much. The right balance has to be struck, and the design that is accepted has to meet all of the core requirements for project success. A Project Assurance Specialist can help the organization find that balance.
- Development (Acceptance Evaluation)
Does the implementation fully implement the design and meet all of the organizational requirements? Is the integration with the core systems complete? Are the switch-over plans sufficiently thought out and are there contingencies if things go wrong? And are the training plans in sync with both the solution that has been implemented and the average technical proficiency with those being trained? An outside Project Assurance Specialist can help the organization answer these questions and put the stakeholders’ minds at ease.
- Testing & Training (Transition and Acceptance Streamlining))
Was the testing comprehensive and were all of the key test cases successful? Is there enough C-Suite support to ensure that even the dissenters will be convinced to consent and that the cut-over will be smooth and painless? Are there adequate resources to execute the go-live according to plan? Was the education sufficient? Is everything a green light? Only a Project Assurance Specialist can give you an answer you can truly be confident in.
So how does the Project Assurance Specialist do this and why can it only be done by an outside Project Assurance Specialist and not an inside resource? Come back for Part IV.