How an implementation fails

As the survivor of 15 large implementations, change management consultant Kevin Fletcher believes all IT managers begin projects with good intentions but the result isn't always as planned.

Through his experience in implementations either as "a victim, part of the management team, or as an external consultant", he said most bad decisions are made in the initial stages or when projects are fast-tracked.

"Most of us embark on implementations assuming that if we give them our best shot, scope them carefully, plan meticulously, apply the best technology, train our people, manage the costs, monitor progress, and so on, that we will inevitably end up with the results we planned for. If we didn’t believe this we wouldn’t start," Fletcher said.

"Yet how often have we learnt from hard experience that far too many implementations end up failing to achieve what we intended?"

Speaking at the MRO World 2003 Asia Pacific Maximo user conference in Melbourne last week, Fletcher, who is a consultant at Maintenance Transformations, said the biggest challenge in software implementations "is to develop an understanding of where the organisation would like to be in the future. This needs to be expressed in today’s terms."

When they are undertaking asset and maintenance solution implementations organisations need four key experts, he said.

"[That's] someone who knows how the business side of things work, someone who knows what maintenance management is, a change management expert, and a highly skilled software person who is going to listen to the other three experts," he said.

Referring to a global SAP project as an example, Fletcher finds senior management often don't understand IT.

Fletcher said change management is a term that frightens people, "by giving the impression that your whole life is about to change".

However, he said IT professionals can sometimes fail to realise the affect change can have on users.

The secret to successful implementations lies in the performance management processes, according to Fletcher who said projects that are on budget, on time, and whose staff have enjoyed the process have a better chance of success.

The president of the Victorian Maximo user group, Peter Muller said the toughest issue facing IT professionals today is the expectation to do more with less, with budgets constantly under pressure.

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