1. Lack of ownership or governance
The clearer the responsibilities and stronger the sense of ownership of the project within your organisation, the better the results. Tasks such as change management, reviews of HR processes, and other aspects of internal implementation require your organisation’s active participation. In many instances, it also demands your project manager to take charge.
Creating proper governance requires a clear framework, lines of management and responsibility. Your project manager should have a clear mandate to make necessary decisions within the required timeframe. Where decisions need to be referred up, senior management should be actively engaged and properly briefed so decisions aren’t delayed.
Furthermore, it’s very helpful for continuity to exist within your project team. If key people leave the project team during the implementation, their replacements will have to be onboarded and brought up to speed. Sometimes this is unavoidable, and in that event your solution provider should make sure that new team members are quickly able to fill their predecessors’ shoes to reduce the possibility of delays.
2. Insufficient internal resources
Sometimes organisations simply underestimate the amount of work that is involved, particularly given that there are some things your solution provider just can’t do for you. Failure to allocate appropriate resources to an implementation puts projects at risk.
At the outset, it’s very important that both teams, vendor-side and customer-side, understand clearly the tasks that they have to undertake and the amount of effort involved.
For instance, there’s almost always a certain amount of homework or preparation that a customer needs to work through before the implementation can begin. In some cases, this might be cleansing or importing data. It might also be creating a clear picture of all the needs the software is supposed to address. Later in the implementation it might involve testing and fine tuning.
If you are fully committed, take responsibility and complete the preparation that your vendor team will ask from you, you can minimise delays and prevent the project from failing to deliver all the benefits you hoped for.
3. Lack of commitment
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a maxim that amounts to ‘if you’re in, you’re in’. You can disagree with colleagues but if you give them the go ahead for a project, you have to back them 100%. There’s no point giving the green light and then hoping, secretly or not, for failure.
Common symptoms of lack of commitment include a lack of internal discussion during the project. If you’re committed to doing something, you’re going to want to talk about it and iron out every detail.
Implementation projects generally involve kick-off meetings, workshops (often throughout the process), and a wrap up meeting. It may be tempting to skip elements like these, however they’re almost always extremely valuable. They keep the project on track and they keep the teams together, enthused and focused on their common goal.
Your organisation should also be committed to redefining your HR processes. This includes analysing which processes are working, which should be changed and which ones are irrelevant or outdated, since a new HR solution won’t fix issues with your processes by itself. Implementing a solution is an ideal time to question all the things that are taken for granted within HR operations, and to conduct a thorough review. Implementing an HR solution makes you think your own processes through, question them, and forget the unnecessary ones. In the end this is work that pays itself back in several ways.
4. Lack of communication
One can’t lay all the responsibility for communication on either the customer or the vendor. Communication is a two-way process. A solution provider has to do its best to open up channels, listen, respond and be available – without reservation. The best teams communicate freely, also across organisational lines.
Be aware, if you find yourself in a situation where people in your organisation feel unable to ask a question either from the provider, or of their own team, that it’s almost certainly something worth addressing. Part of it is just being human; we’re always reluctant to ask ‘stupid questions’ such as ‘how does this work?’ or ‘how can I get the best out of this software?’ Mainly however, this is due to open communication not being encouraged within organisations.
If this communications gap isn’t bridged, the consequences can be serious; bad information or data, the need to revisit element of the project and, inevitably, delays.
Be clear from the outset about who has knowledge of what areas and properly communicate this. Both sides should be aware that certain factors that may affect the timeline, availability of resources and the deployment of the system, should be considered and communicated clearly to the other party.
5. Not knowing what you want out of the project
If you don’t know where you want to go it makes it harder for you to get there. In almost every project agility is a bonus. Set clear goals from the outset, have regular check-ups to ensure you’re on course to reach them. If one route is blocked, take another. If one feature doesn’t deliver what you wanted, be prepared to rethink and redesign. A clear picture of end goals and the scope of what you want to achieve help ensure that however you get there you’ll do so in the end.
The vendor’s project team is there to help you reach your goals but it can’t decide your destination for you. It helps to have a clear overview of your processes. If you decide on changes during the course of the project, which sometimes is inevitable, it does have an impact on progress and can result in delays.