Project Assurance: A Methodology for Keeping Your Supply Management Project on Track Part V

In Part IV, we continued our discussion of Project Assurance, asked how a Project Assurance Specialist insures true project success, and asked why only an outside Project Assurance Specialist (PAS) can insure this success. We noted that the PAS uses collaborative intervention to insure success, overviewed the three phases of a collaborative intervention, and stated that it could only be done by an outside PAS.

Today we will discuss why the Project Assurance Specialist has to be an outside expert, and we will do so by reviewing ten primary reasons, as found in many articles and books on project failure, on why projects fail and why it takes an outside PAS to prevent this failure.

Consider these ten common reasons projects fail.

  • Lack of top management commitment
    Stakeholders inside the organization often don’t understand the level of commitment required and often have a skewed perception of how committed an individual in the organization really is to the project. An outside expert comes in with a clean slate and an uninfluenced view.
  • Unrealistic expectations
    An outside expert has a clearer picture of what is and is not reasonable as that expert has a broader view of the market, solution providers, and off-the-shelf solutions.
  • Poor requirements definition
    Since it will be the first acquisition of a Supply Management solution for many organizations, many organizations have no idea what constitutes a good requirements definition. An outside expert, on the other hand, will not only know what does, but what absolutely has to be addressed for project success.
  • Improper Package Selection
    The selection needs to address the real needs of the organization, and not the perceived needs, and the provider needs to be one that can grow with the organization.
  • Gaps between Software and Business Requirements
    If you don’t really understand what software is needed to effectively satisfy a business requirement, it is almost impossible to avoid gaps — especially when you don’t really speak the language of Supply Management solution providers. An outside expert, who does speak the language, can help insure that there are no gaps.
  • Inadequate Resources
    Since most organizations have never implemented the system that they need, they have no real understanding of what resources are really needed. An outside expert will have this understanding.
  • Underestimating Time and Cost
    It’s a good rule of thumb that software-based solution projects always take longer and cost more than you expect, even with a best effort. But how much longer and how much more? Only an outside expert with experience in the type of project you are going for can guarantee that your estimate will be in the ballpark.
  • Poor Project Management / Lack of Methodology
    The truth is that you can’t manage what you don’t understand, and whatever you miss in strategy, planning, and design will come back to bite you in the @ss before the project is over — unless, of course, you have a methodology that insures nothing crucial is overlooked and all issues are identified and mitigated away (or at least managed) as they arise. Only a Project Assurance Specialist can identify all these key points that your internal team will miss.
  • Underestimating Impact of Change
    It’s hard to assess the impact of something you’ve never done — and with solution providers constantly whispering calming assurances into your ears, it’s easy to underestimate the impact (especially if you have a team that is adverse to change). An outside expert can not only peg where you are in terms of process and technology maturity, but where you are in your ability to manage change.
  • Lack of Training / Education
    How many times have you heard “it’s so easy to use, it teaches itself” or something similar from a solution provider. While this may be typically true for the technically inclined, it will not be true for those who are not technical by nature. Nor will it be true for the advanced functionality or tasks that are not performed daily. Training and education will be required, and an expert will be needed to advise you on how much you will truly need.

There are other reasons, and some are clearly explained Prinzo’s No Wishing Required, but these should be enough to convince you that assurance is often critical to project success, especially if the project is complex or it is the first time your organization is undertaking such a project. You have to remember that your PMO (Project Management Office) has expertise in project management, not project evaluation, and, being internal to your organization, can’t really bring the true objectivity an external expert can.

That’s why you need an Assurance Specialist to check up on you at key points. Chances are, if your PMO is on its game, the project will be going rather well when the specialist checks in at each stage, but chances also are there will be little things missed here and there which, if not managed, could morph into big ugly monsters down the road.

Project Assurance is like insurance for your project. A small premium that offsets a big loss down the road. You might be one of the organizations that don’t need it, but considering it typically costs so little compared to the overall project (management) cost, can you really afford not to buy what works out to rather cheap insurance? the doctor doesn’t think so, and believes you shouldn’t either.