The 7 Biggest Mistakes in EPM Implementation

The 7 Biggest Mistakes in EPM Implementation

Insights | 12 March 2010

Contrary to popular belief, the effective implementation of an Enterprise Project Management (EPM) Solution such as Microsoft Project Server® 2010 isn’t about software configuration, it’s about business results.

The implementation of an EPM system within an organisation is a strategic decision. The initiative should be instigated at the highest levels of organisational decision-making with clear corporate objectives, including:

  • Greater or more effective governance
  • Decreased time to market
  • Project cost savings
  • Improved alignment of projects to strategy
  • Increased resource visibility and decision making

Most EPM implementation projects come unstuck when they fail to adhere to the most basic principles of strategic execution. The most common points of failure are:

  1. Spending too little time with senior people in the organisation at the outset. Getting executives on board early is vital and ultimately saves time and reduces risk.
  2. Underestimating the ability and impact of EPM by treating it as a technical project management tool rather than a business system.
  3. Planning, design and implementation are delegated down through the organisation often to teams and individuals who have no visibility of the original intent.
  4. Underestimating the broad organisation-wide impact of an EPM. The people affected by the change are not included in the decision-making process, creating employee resistance.
  5. The desired improvements in business processes and behaviours are driven by software requirements rather than best practice or strategic objectives.
  6. Organisation-wide, revolutionary change is attempted rather than planned incremental successes.
  7. Failing to conduct a pilot.
  8. Scope creeps a bit, then a bit more, and then just a little bit more…

Over 15 years PM-Partners group has developed proprietary methods to ensure the strategic execution of major initiatives within organisations. With the growing trend toward EPM systems being paralleled by increasing project failure rates, PM-Partners became an accredited Microsoft® partner with the specific purpose of helping organisations achieve business outcomes from their EPM initiatives.

To avoid the pitfalls, and increase the likelihood of success, PM-Partners group recommends the following actions:

Performance targets

Translate strategic outcomes into specific performance targets and results for each level of the organisation. This will make the connection between strategy and action unambiguous.

Benefits communication

Clearly document the benefits expected from EPM as part of the business analysis and scoping phase. Ensure that these benefits are repeatedly and meaningfully communicated at all levels of the organisation.

Review project delivery practices

No amount of software can make up for ineffective project delivery practices. Conduct a thorough review of your project management processes and capabilities prior to EPM system design, otherwise you will be at risk of simply automating the problems. Don’t assume that what you have in place is working or will get you by. This is a great opportunity to review it and come up with a ‘complete’ plan.

Incremental delivery of benefits

Break the programme of change down into incremental steps that each deliver benefit/s. Incremental wins support many of the other success drivers within projects. They enable the winning of hearts and minds, contain project creep and accommodate fine tuning of plans to ensure maximum success.

Assessment & health checks

Scope creep is able to flourish because the people most able to provide direction (i.e. your senior decision-makers) are absorbed in other responsibilities. Conducting timely, objective health checks on your EPM project will send up some early ‘red flags’ thus dramatically reducing implementation time and costs.

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