1. Not Compromising on Management Approach

There are 2 major project management approaches in software implementations: the waterfall model and the agile methodology. Willingness to compromise on an approach that balances waterfall and agile techniques will likely give you and your project the best chance for success.  

The waterfall model is linear—all requirements are gathered at the start of the project and the rest of the project continues sequentially. Agile, however, assumes that requirements will change over the course of the project without necessarily committing to concrete deadlines. A rudimentary waterfall approach would ignore much of what is learned through the progressive evolution of the project. Without course correction, a strict waterfall approach results in an end design that fits requirements as they were initially understood but fails to meet true business use cases. Taken to the extreme, an agile approach could be just as disastrous, leading to a continual stream of change requests and never-ending development. Get the best of both worlds by adopting a waterfall approach for project kickoff and the initial test cycle before transitioning to an agile approach.

2. Trying to Satisfy Everyone

The goal of your organization's ERP implementation could be to reduce operational software and hardware costs, position your systems for streamlined mergers and acquisitions, or to gain functionality. Regardless of the strategic goal, keeping end users and other stakeholders happy is a valid objective. However, trying to satisfy everyone will lead to project delays. Key project decisions may result in one team's desired outcome, while another team may not agree with the approach. When project leadership acknowledges sacrifices, reiterates the project mission, and displays confidence, the entire project team will feel like they are making progress—even if they disagree with individual decisions.

3. Inadequate Resourcing

The managers, analysts, and subject matter experts most valuable to the ERP implementation are the same people who carry the most day-to-day operational responsibilities. Inevitably, project teams work overtime supporting both the implementation and business operations. To avoid burnout, project management needs to assign and train backup resources wherever possible. Furthermore, project test cycles should be scheduled outside of known busy times, such as month-end close. People on the ground floor are often the best judges of adequate vs. inadequate resourcing. By providing an avenue for expressing resource concerns, project management will be able to identify and resolve issues before they become delays.

4. Succumbing to Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis occurs when so many options are presented that it delays decision making; this is famously known as the paradox of choice. Open-ended questions and discussions are valuable tools for initial discovery and design, but they should progressively become more focused as the project develops. When necessary, leadership can course correct by encouraging discourse to determine the best-suited outcome for the organization. If individual decision-makers are frequently getting stuck, try tailoring messages to succinctly present the available options as a numbered list; this enables the decision to be made with a single word response. For technical or configuration issues, software vendors and system integrators often have the subject matter experience to guide decisions towards the best solution. Management should set an expectation with their vendors that they will speak with authority and lead the discussion to workable solutions.  

5. Letting Morale Plummet

Your project team will work long hours and individual contributors will not always get what they want. Additionally, there are stressful go-no-go decisions, accountability, and a 24-hour go-live schedule to consider. Many users have the hurdle of learning a new software while simultaneously helping implement it and also still carrying out their “regular” job responsibilities. For these reasons, your entire team will feel stretched thin—there is a significant risk that morale and work quality will plummet. Recognizing team members for their accomplishments, fostering collective ownership, and encouraging open communication will power you through project difficulties. Additionally, leadership can share and encourage safe, clinically proven, non-pharmaceutical interventions that optimize performance and help people cope. No-cost interventions include breathing exercises and power poses,.

What this Means for the C-Suite and Technology Leaders

Your organization’s IT (Information Technology) transformation does not solely depend on technical resources.  Flexible methodologies, an understanding of psychology, high morale, smart resourcing, and effective leadership are needed to make complex projects successful.  IT leaders who care about their team, optimize team performance using the latest findings in psychology, and think critically about the human-technology interface have the power to transform their organization’s operations for years to come.