Enterprise 2.0 Conference Santa Clara

Save the date  for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference Santa Clara, CA Nov 8-11, 2010 at the Santa Clara Convention Center

Enterprise 2.0 Conference Boston

Registration for Enterprise 2.0 Conference Boston is now open. Register with promo code CNPHEB01 before March 1 to save 30% on onsite pricing or to get a free expo pass.

Virtual Enterprise 2.0 Conference – Now Available On-Demand

On February 2 the Virtual Enterprise 2.0 Conference brought together over 1,000 people from companies around the world ready to accelerate business performance with social and collaborative technologies. Did you miss it or want to re-live part of the day? You can now view the event on-demand absolutely free of charge.

Just updating my 2010 calendar and thought I would share these ERP conference dates and links:
February 2, 2010
Online registration to open shortly – sign up to be notified.

April 18-22, 2010
Las Vegas, Nevada
Created by and for customers, brought to you by the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG), the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) and Quest International Users Group (Quest)

Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2010
April 24-27, 2010
Atlanta, GA

Oracle OpenWorld 2010
September 19 – 23, 2010
San Francisco, CA

Dreamforce Global Gathering
December 6-9, 2010
San Francisco, CA

Method123 has just released their new Risk Plan template, available for immediate download. If you’re not proactively managing and mitigating risks on your project, you’ll find this an invaluable aid for you and your business partners.  On a project at a Fortune 500 company, I conducted a risk identification and prioritization exercise that included senior managers and executives from the company’s HR, payroll and benefits departments. Although they had been key stakeholders or sponsors for multiple enterprise projects costing millions of dollars, they had never participated in a formal risk exercise. Once the initial working session was complete, they admitted it was an eye-opening experience, and ultimately it helped them get an early start on organizational change management activities designed to mitigate risks related to user acceptance.

“Managing risk on the project is one of the most neglected pieces of the overall Project Management Methodology puzzle. Project managers tend to not spend nearly enough time on risk planning and mitigation. The culprit is usually a lack of proper knowledge, experience and tools,” states Method123 CEO Jason Westland. “By utilizing our new Risk Plan template, the project manager will be able to document anything and everything they need to about risk on their projects. Through the use of this tool, they’ll keep a good handle on risks throughout the entire engagement.”

Method123’s Risk Planning template allows the Project Manager to capture all necessary information on:

  • Risk identification
  • Risk prioritization
  • Likelihood of risk occurrence
  • Potential risk impact

Jason further states, “Upfront planning to assess risks on a project is not usually the first thing a project manager thinks of as they’re kicking off a project. Our Project Management Templates makes it easy to tackle that task early on and make it far less burdensome on the PM. Proactively used, it becomes a positive tool rather than a noose around the project manager’s neck.”

By using Method123’s Risk Planning template, you’ll be able to:

  • See necessary action needed to mitigate specific risks
  • Plan contingency actions to take in case the risks do occur
  • Schedule risk avoidance actions as part of the overall Project Plan
  • Continually monitor risks throughout the project with the team and the customer

As Method123 states, creating an overall Risk Plan is critical to project success. Their new Risk Plan template will become an essential project management template to your organization and will help you maintain as much control as possible over the risks you’ll face on your projects.  Click here to order and download the updated Risk Plan template .

I’ve revamped my project management website, stevegriffispmp.com, and added an online shop tailored to the needs of project managers. The website includes updated information on my project management and consulting services, and a new online shop featuring books, software and accessories for the well-equipped project manager. The online store is the result of several partnerships with leading online retailers, including  amazon.com , Method123, MPMM, and ProjectPlan.com.

checkboxYou just stopped and stared at that little set of checkboxes near the top of the new weekly status report you’ve just been handed.

Project Phase:
□ Requirements
□ Design
□ Construction
□ Test
□ Deploy

“Well,” you say to yourself, “that depends.”

The new development servers have been deployed, but we haven’t even begun to lay out the requirements for the new production hardware. We’re halfway through our first move-to-production pass on the technical upgrade, and next week we’ll begin our fit-gap sessions for revamping the payroll configuration and customizations. So let’s see – we’ve deployed one piece, but we’re in design/construction/test for one piece and in requirements for yet another. What happens if I check all the boxes? Well, we’re about a quarter of the way through the budget, so let’s just call it…design!

Then you ask yourself: how can I be following the PMO’s waterfall methodology if I have more than one project phase in play? Oh, it’s a “modified” waterfall. That’s it. Overlapping phases. And just when is your next phase review? And those move-to-production passes – we’re doing several of these, refining and testing the scripts as we go along, right? So, isn’t that kind of, er, iterative?  And that draft list of customizations that need re-tooling – it’s looking very scrum-like – almost like a sprint backlog. What’s up with that? We’re not Agile, are we?” What is this: multiple phases, multiple methodologies?  Just how many projects am I working on here?

Which brings us to an interesting question: Is your ERP upgrade a project or a program?

How do we tell the difference? And why do we care?

Roy Youngman, in a blog post entitled, Programs are More than Just Big Projects, at 0 to 60 in 1.6 Gigaseconds says that differentiating between a Program and a Project is crucial for companies that want to realize value from IT investments, because they need to be managed differently. While many believe that a program is just a Big Project, Youngman defines a program as, “the unit of management for conceptualizing and ultimately achieving the desired outcomes of a major strategic initiative. A Program usually eventually encompasses multiple projects and lasts for long periods of time.”

“A Project,” he says, “is the unit of work for creating a specific, predictable deliverable. A Project is a Project when Project managers clearly understand why the project exists (its objectives), what is to be delivered by the project (its deliverables) and have the knowledge and ability to accurately estimate how the deliverables will be produced and the resources required to get the job done (the work-plan).”

Many ERP upgrade projects are often billed as – or linked to – strategic initiatives, lasting a year or more and involving dozens of resources. Because of their cost, complexity, and challenges to completion, there’s a tendency to put them off until absolutely required.

When a project does get off the ground, the scope likely includes more than just a technical upgrade. New infrastructure supporting the development and test environments, as well as a high-availability production environment may need to be established. Additional modules to provide business value, like employee and manager self-service may be included as a critical component of the business case.

Because of enhancements to the delivered processes and user interface, change management activities – including business process redesign and user training – become a critical success factor. These changes may drive a revamp of batch processing, report distribution and application security may be required as well.

So what’s a project manager to do?  Many organizations have made significant progress to get to a Level 3 maturity model, and have an established project and program management discipline. If your project is really a program, you may know more about the business value and interdependencies involved, and this information should be should be shared with the portfolio manager and the PMO. If you’re still managing multiple projects, make a special effort to fashion your project and resource plans to be predictable. Design your controls and reporting as needed to take into account multiple sub-projects.

Amy Alberg, blogging at Making Things Happen, says to consider utilizing program manager skills that are outward focused, and to rely more on your influence in the organization. Learn to get comfortable with the ambiguity that comes with a program; think and act strategically.  Be aware that programs require an even more sophisticated approach to managing change and navigating politics than projects.

Youngman suggests this: “Projects should be structured to form, execute, and disband in highly defined periods of time (months, not years) while requiring a small number of identified resources (a few, not dozens). A Project that takes multiple years and dozens of resources is not a predictable construct.”  Work with your director, business and IT stakeholders, and the PMO to structure your sub-projects to be predictable.

“Projects that are predictable improve the health of the enterprise in several ways,” says Youngman. “First, accountability for execution is well-established to someone that has the ways and means to be successful (e.g., a Project Manager). Pride-in-workmanship becomes a constant motivator as team members move from one success to another. A virtuous cycle is created that fuels itself as individuals grow through success rather than rationalize failure.”

Back in March of this year, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published one of their 10Minutes pieces entitled, “10Minutes on realizing ERP value“.  The authors make the case that ERP projects should be an executive priority now.  Here’s an excerpt:

ERP-enabled business change can
unlock enormous opportunities. Not
only right now—when endurance is
the first order of the day—but also
later, when the markets come
roaring back.

“ERP-enabled business change can unlock enormous opportunities. Not only right now—when endurance is the first order of the day—but also later, when the markets come roaring back.”

Some large and very public ERP projects are being scaled back or postponed, such as British Airways’ recent announcement that it  had shelved a planned company-wide ERP project.

According to PwC, the two key principles that help companies can use to deliver sustainable change through ERP are to:

  1. Reduce unnecessary IT complexity, and
  2. Minimize customization that doesn’t add value.

Are companies embracing ERP projects – large and small – to invest for the future? Are simplification and “vanilla” implementations the order of the day? Your comments are welcome!