Who owns the implementation project?


I was reading Monique Rupert’s blog discussing her six critical success factors for implementing supply chain software solutions.  Having spent most of my career procuring, implementing and maintaining supply chain systems, I have to concur with her points.  I would like to expand on item 3, “Ownership” as I feel is the essential element that enables the others to function efficiently and effectively.

Let’s dissect a typical implementation and look at how “ownership” comes into play.

Pre Implementation (Planning)

Getting the team formed and clearly identifying the problem statement and objective can be a daunting task. A strong executive sponsor, as Monique instructs, needs to articulate a clear vision and purpose while empowering the right people with the right tools  to be successful. Ownership does not speak only of the executive’s role. That would be a mistake if the sponsor was thought of as the owner of this project. Monique points out that everyone must feel ownership to ensure successful adoption.  It also would be a mistake if any one department was perceived as the owner of the solution.  Supply Chain, IT, Finance, HR, Legal and other organizations all have a stake in the successful deployment of supply chain software solutions.

There are tools available that can lay out everyone’s role prior to project execution.  A relationship and responsibilities matrix, (sometimes called a RACI or ARCI matrix) can be used quite effectively to show exactly what is expected of all participants during each phase of the project.  Buy-in is more likely to come when key end-users and other critical stakeholders see they are part of the plan and not an after-thought.  Click here for an example.

A few quotes on the importance of planning:

  • “A problem well-defined is half solved” (John Dewey)
  • “If I had one hour to save the world I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.” (Albert Einstein)

During Implementation (Execution)

In her blog, Monique identifies “Testing” in her list of factors.  The ownership element of testing needs to be defined up front not as a last minute request to “see if it works”. Key super-users and occasional users who know in advance what is expected, and know what the test criteria are far more likely to be successful than an adhoc approach.

Post Implementation (Control)

As the project begins to come to a close, have you ever encountered a project leader who is struggling to pitch ongoing ownership responsibilities?  After all, the project leader may not be the process owner.  Who will manage: ongoing training? change control?  user access to the system?   upgrade and renewal decisions? requests for enhancements?  break fix/help desk process?   These are all vital elements and roles that need to be defined in the planning stage, not post deployment.

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