Ahhh good ol’ scope creep; when a project you thought would take three months, takes six and costs twice as much! We’ve probably all been there at one point or another, and it’s often unavoidable, but there are some things you can do to keep it in check.
1. Make a detailed project plan.
The project plan is KING! So make sure yours is a detailed plan, don’t be afraid to drill down to the fine print. Your project plan should cover from scoping to “go-live,” and don’t forget about testing. “Most of the projects I’ve run have had over 200 ideations/lines in my project cut-over plans.” Senior consultant Randy Murray said, when I asked him what his top advice would be. “I’ve seen clients come to me with a cut-over plan with just fourteen lines on it! So be sure to get more detailed then that. I’d say the average project has between 200-500 lines for cut-over weekend.”
Make sure to include several rounds of testing, in your project plan. Be sure you’ve allowed for enough time to test your custom code and customizations, and remember to allow enough time for training your users.
Make sure to clearly communicate your plan to everyone who might be involved and be sure team members clearly understand their roles, deadlines and responsibilities. Many projects seem successful from a technical perspective but fail in the eyes of the business, due to a lack of emphasis on training them properly on the new, or upgraded system. “I see clients cut the training portion of their plans thinking it’s not as critical, and that’s a mistake.” Randy told me. “If you have users who don’t know how to use the new system or are not properly trained, they can get frustrated and disenchanted very quickly. But when the users are well trained and informed they take ownership and understand how important their role is in the success of ‘go live.’ This is critical to a successful implementation or upgrade. Managers need to take this part very seriously.”
3. Management buy-in.
It’s important that your project has a business sponsor and the support of upper management. It’s also critical that your project team works well with management, or at least that you have a great Project Manager that does. “When there is a disconnect between the project team and upper management, everything can fall apart quickly.” Randy said.
4. Functional Scope.
Clearly define the functional scope of your Oracle application upgrade. “Many companies tend to only look at the technical aspect of their upgrade, this can be a big mistake.” Jason Williams, OnPlan functional consultant told me. “Be sure you fully consider how functionality changes (big or small), and especially new functionality can impact existing business processes. This is an area that if not given proper attention in the planning phase can easily get out of hand, costing time and money down the road.”
5. Call on the experts!
When in doubt turn to a trusted partner who’s an expert in Oracle and doing upgrades. The great part of partnering with an expert is that you can get their expertise at whatever involvement level you need. Involving a business partners to conduct a thorough functional analysis prior to your upgrade is a great option. They can go through your install module by module documenting any changes to the application and they can help you understand how those changes may impact business process. They can determine if the proposed changes will require additional testing, training or configuration/customization.
Scope creep is never 100% avoidable but taking these steps can help you plan, prepare and set in place a budget and timeframe that will be realistic.