IT Implementation Success – Engagement and Decision-Making

For decades research has shown that a consistently high percentage of IT implementations are train wrecks. Besides the real problem of budget over-runs and long delays, recent data (see includes an alarming number of implementations going “so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company.” I have personally witnessed manufacturing locations that were forced to go-live without essential information, such as is necessary for customer support reps to take orders, or for plants to release shipments. In the cases I have witnessed, go-live decision-making was placed in the hands of project managers (IT) rather than location managers (operations). Those project managers were reluctant to ever adjust a go-live date. Ironically, some of this reluctance stemmed from their desire to please their customers (in this case the business unit VP). Because of this the views of those who had to use the system on a day-to-day basis lost out to the opinions of those who were trying to implement it.

Such go-live decision-making confusion is mostly overlooked in the reports on implementation failure. This may be because the reporting companies, such as McKenzie, approach the subject from a traditional framework of IT project management. They share the bias that project discipline requires meeting the go-live date no matter the condition of the system, and that subsequent problems can be ironed out by a triage of IT consultants. Unfortunately, the patient too often dies.

In contrast our decision process engages the views of stakeholders such as the end users and the project manager, but leaves the final decision in the hands of the business.

An additional blind spot for the big consulting firms is obsession with a “change management” approach that amounts to a propaganda campaign to “decrease resistance” and obtain “buy-in.” More often than not their customers see such “change management” as a needless expense, and opt not to include it. We can’t blame them.

Our methods, in comparison, trace back to sources that predate when “change management” became a fad. While we recognize that communication, especially through the chain of command, is important, our primary focus is on bringing clarity and engagement to the entire process, with the end goal of a system that actually works and is delivered as close to on-time and within budget as possible. We have a track record of IT change management success, in no small part because we carefully structure end user influence from beginning to end. What can be influenced, how, and what can’t be influenced is negotiated from the beginning. This includes functionality of the systems as well as crucial decisions along the way. Such clarity ensures that target dates are consistently hit, but never at the expense of a business’s ability to operate once the system is turned on.

Our approach has been forged in our internal positons with Alcoa and EDS, as well as multi-location consulting on Oracle implementations. Perhaps more than any other of our services, you can pay now for quality consultation resulting in on-time on-budget delivery of a system that works, or take the very real risk of joining the majority who have had disappointing or even disastrous implementations.

About crosbyod

Crosby & Associates OD is a catalyst for high performance & morale. Our methods are a unique blend grounded in research and decades of experience. In the spirit of Kurt Lewin, the founder of OD, as we partner with you in the present we transfer our methods to you so you are independent in the future. Learn more at
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