Delayed approvals, scope change and new business realities. Can you plan for change without changing the plan?

Think big, plan small and act fast. No matter how well the transformation is planned, approvals, scope change and business realities will impact the roadmap.

About the Enterprise Fail Series: Our senior project management experts share lessons that others have had to learn the hard way about how, when and where enterprise-level digital transformations and software implementations have ground to a halt. The result is high-level guide to avoid being among the 7 out of 10 Enterprise implementations that don’t achieve their objectives or are discarded.

We’ve helped several B2B and D2C clients work through these issues to successfully bridge the digital gap. Here are 6 “Project Paralyzers”, including tricks on how to recognize them and address them.

Are you biting off more than you can chew?

Some companies or Project Management Offices (PMO) fail to grasp how much they can realistically expect to achieve in a year (or in a given timeframe), with a to-do list that may be too ambitious, effectively “biting off more than they can chew”.

Here are the most common causes:

Planning and managing delays:

  • Underestimating the delays that will be imposed by the approval process, they fail to account for the multiplication of these delays when corporate governance compels them to break a large project up into multiple year-long projects.
  • Instead of proceeding smoothly, one project after another, delays in treasury approval create a disconnected series of six month-long efforts interrupted by six months periods of treasury planning and approval.

Underestimating the impact of seasonal loads (such as Q4, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and/or Holiday sales for retail) which will make business resources completely unavailable, impose IT systems freezes, and divert attention and focus from the project.

Believing the software vendor salesperson, who says it will be inexpensive and fast, instead the system integrator who provides a more realistic estimate of what to expect (*ahem).

Believing the IT department (is this really an IT project?) when they say they can do it all themselves in half the time at half the budget..

How to avoid this:

There’s a saying that goes “The only thing I know about a plan is that it is going to change”. Make sure you only plan in detail those elements that you KNOW you can complete in the very near term (4-6 months).

Why? Because a year from now, things you planned a year ago are no longer valid or have changed enough to merit a new plan. Every “piece” has to work on its own and provide value on its own, you may never get to the 3rd or 4th phase/piece – never assume the “next phase” is guaranteed.

Build buildings, not cities. Build one floor at a time, while you’re at it.


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