Key Lessons for Initiating Any Cross-Functional System Implementation

I’m often asked what industries SEI serves, and while there’s certainly a focus on banking, healthcare, and academia in Boston, collectively SEI consultants have experience in virtually all industries. With this range of experience, SEI understands that the standard lessons learned in project management apply to all large, cross-functional implementations.

Large-scale implementations often have these variables in common:

  • Project approval/support from the organization’s executives
  • Large number of resources
  • Great visibility across the organization
  • Extensive changes in process and technology

While each project deserves a customized approach to resolving specific risks or issues, over-arching project management steps to start your project are inherent in any large project. Here are the lessons that SEI consultants have learned over the years of large-scale implementations.

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1.  Define project success criteria and how you will measure the return on your investment (ROI).  If project success criteria are set from the outset, expectations are clear and you can measure the value of project initiatives effectively. Organizations often get distracted by the hot new technology without fully analyzing the ROI. It is imperative to connect any improvement to a return on that investment to truly show the value. As organizations tighten their internal spending, calculating this ROI will justify future spending.

2.  Conduct a self-assessment. Define your organization’s current performance, investment, and gaps that the new solution will fill. It is critical to understand your needs before you begin shopping for a new solution. If there are existing programs, is there an opportunity to consolidate, streamline or simply make enhancements to fill the gaps? All of these answers are key to preventing you from getting distracted by the bells and whistles a new technology may provide without addressing the core challenges.

3.  Prioritize according to the corporate strategy. Obtain a thorough understanding of the internal landscape (i.e. which programs fulfill which needs) to ensure the program’s scope is finite, and this project does not become the answer to all of the organization’s challenges. Keep in mind, by showcasing early successes, you can motivate the organization and inspire future use.

4.  Establish a governance structure. Assign roles and define responsibilities for the project team, subject matter experts, and work streams (i.e. areas of the organization that will be essential to planning/rollout). Create a project champion by assigning ownership to the line of business executive that stands to gain the most benefit from the implementation. A project team comprised of members across the business lines is critical to demonstrate the involvement and collaboration from all departments.

5.  Understand your organization’s requirements. Define high-level requirements for the solution (e.g. price, applicable modules) and expected limitations due to resource availability or cost. Include all business units in this process and define quick wins required to gain buy-in from each business unit. If your project will include a vendor, defining requirements must occur prior to the vendor evaluation.

While this roadmap of best practices can assist in your preliminary analysis, involving all functions across your organization is imperative throughout the project.  Check back in with us in the coming weeks when we’ll provide you with some key project management techniques to ensure your projects are well-managed and executed.

Sarah Clark

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