As more and more of our ERP implementation and Upgrade customers find their business operations slowing and project teams moving into remote-based roles, I am frequently asked:
- Does it make sense to continue our project?
- Can we be successful while working remotely?
Maintaining Project Continuity
It may not seem like it, but slower times in your business can actually be turned to your advantage, and work to drive a rapid, and successful project. Some typical project challenges are listed below, along with how you can turn a period of slowness in your business, into an accelerated plan to implement or upgrade, such that your new system is ready when your business is. Project continuity will ensure that any active or planned undertakings continue to make use of any momentum that preceded a period of disruption.
While we move to design a system for our clients that correctly supports their desired future state, it’s very important to be able to model end to end processes with subject matter experts in the business. This can be challenging as these individuals are almost always key business roles, and it is normally difficult to get dedicated time. With more bandwidth for each subject matter expert (SME) to work remotely with the lead on our side, the process modeling that can sometimes take months or more can be compressed into just a few weeks, leaving us plenty of time to complete any gaps – like custom screens, reports, or integrations – so that the system is ready for your team.
It is common during a project for end-users to struggle to find time to attend education classes, workshops, and to make time to do their homework while they keep up with the demands of their 9 to 5 job. This can be a good time to allocate some time each day for them to focus on learning the system, and ensuring readiness for UAT and cutover.
User Acceptance Testing
Ideally, project team members all need to get together to run high-value business streams through the designed system, to validate all gaps are closed, and the system is ready for production use. These UAT exercises take key people out of their jobs, for a period of several days. While things are slower, an activity like this can be tightly scheduled, such that this demanding exercise is out of the way, and the system is ready when business picks up.
As a consulting firm, we are accustomed to working remotely. As such, we can assist your own project team to be able to be effective and productive, even if much of the team are working from their homes. The key is to define roles and tightly scheduled tasks within our clients’ organization, build a collaborative way for issues to be logged and addressed, and with a good schedule in place, set periodic meetings to review issues, answer questions, adapt to change, and foster constant communication.
Things Encompass can work with your project team to do are:
- Define a point (SME) for each business group
- Set up a tracking system that the client and ESI can collaboratively use to track issues. We are currently opening our own system to customers, via a web-based portal, free of charge.
- Set periodic team meetings with SMEs to review critical issues, and let them get updates from Encompass on anything that we have been asked to assist with. Early morning, and right before lunch are typically times to meet.
- Have each SME/Lead funnels all issues from their department to the portal at the end of the day- including questions from their team. The SME can then set a priority on issues, which might range anywhere from ‘I can’t perform a process’ to ’nice to have in Phase 2. This is the input to the morning meetings, where the customer’s internal project manager, and the Encompass project manager can set further prioritization as needed.
We realize that while you probably do not want to cut over to a new system while most of the team are remote, we can definitely plan intelligently for project continuity. By leveraging some of the available time your team has right now, work together to accelerate your project, such that your business can go live as soon as you are ready, rather than trying to restart a project right as things get busy.
I am always available to take a call and help you work through a process that will work for your organization, to ensure project continuity with remote team members, and to prepare for success when things return to normal.
About Encompass Solutions
Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass has helped modernize operations and automate processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.