Like a construction project, software implementation can take longer than you think necessary. If you've lived through a system change, you might liken the process to sitting in traffic waiting for a steamroller to flatten asphalt. You don't know how to do it, but shouldn't those who do know move more quickly? Having a more complete understanding of what the process truly entails will reduce hurdles for your team—and frustration for you—along the way.
Why Projects Take So Long
- Faulty Planning – Project planning includes defining the scope, building the team, and estimating effort, time and cost. It is more than simply assembling a schedule of the team's availability. In fact, the project team must identify and plan to address risks, arrange communications, and determine what qualifies as a quality deliverable. Surprises will inevitably arise during a project, and without a comprehensive project management plan, those surprises will surely cause delays.
- Stormy Weather – For construction projects, changes in weather can set the whole schedule back. With software implementation, changes to the team can affect the schedule. For instance, losing the Gift Processing Manager midway through an accounting integration can cause the project to be stalled until a proper replacement is found and brought up to speed. A project can also experience delays due to changes at the executive level. For example, losing a champion at the leadership level often results in staff feeling they can't move forward without first gaining the new leader's endorsement. Creating a plan in case a critical subject matter expert or an executive leader changes will help the project team adjust more quickly if and when that change occurs.
- Mediocre Equipment – You wouldn't pave a road with a leaky bucket and a rickety shovel; you would invest in quality equipment. Similarly, keeping an implementation project on schedule requires an upfront examination of your project management tool kit. Teams who use the wrong tools spend more energy trying to make the tools work, and less time executing the project plan. Is your project schedule tracked in a spreadsheet? Consider investing in software designed for project scheduling. Does your project team rely on a drive on your network to share project documents and resources? Invest in a collaboration site to share deliverables, tag resources, track issues, and communicate through blogs and forums. Investing in the right tools will help keep your project on track.
- Keeping a Lane Open – Although it's not a perfect solution, merging traffic into one lane is usually the best option during road construction. If you could close the road, the work would be completed sooner, but the disruption to traffic flow would be monumental. Same thing with software implementation, during which staff are expected to perform their regular, essential duties, AND execute the project plan. This can cause delays when operational issues arise and project tasks weren't estimated realistically. It's important to consider potential distractions or responsibilities a project resource might have when estimating how long their deliverables might take to complete.
If your organization will be implementing new software, don't rely exclusively on your vendor's plan and project management. Consider reaching out to a technology consultant such as JCA to develop the most efficient plan possible. With nearly 30 years of software implementation experience, we've seen—and managed—every worst case scenario imaginable. We can help you through your "construction zone" to on-time, on-budget software implementation.
JCA has helped thousands of nonprofits around the world with their technology and operational needs. With years of experience on Blackbaud CRM, JCA knows the software inside and out. Our clients rely on us for operational consulting for leveraging Blackbaud CRM for their unique needs.
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