|Project Management Techniques
Here are just some of the Project Management techniques we use in assisting
our clients in their software implementations.
1. Listening: It is common once having purchased commercial
software to have doubts about the investment made. The salesman has now
left and you may be under pressure to deliver on their sales pitch. We
Listen to your concerns and will endeavour to deliver on those issues that
2. Reporting: A system is only as good as the reports
you get out of it. To do this the system will need to be user friendly
for the data in-putters and the system configured correctly to avail of
the reports supplied.
3. Auditing: There are two basic rules in most audits.
- "You must do what you say you are going to do: Your Standard
Operating Procedures (SOP's) must be realistic (but not Idealistic
as you will probably not have the resources to do them) as you will be
judged by them.
- Continuous Improvement: Clear concise reports will show where
the issues for concern are. These should be addressed to stop reoccurrence.
If the reports do not highlight issues then it is probable that
not all the data is being recorded. Try either configuring the
system to prompt for issues or design input formulae for the
4. Purchasing Software: It is common for Software Houses
to make little if any profit on the packages they sell. It is the ancillary
services that will pay the dividends for them. Watch out for:
- Training: This is usually charged Per Person Per Day outside of the
initial project sale. So make sure you have plenty of training built-in
- Reports: When purchasing the system you will need to make sure
that the report templates you need are available at no additional
cost as this is one of the main reasons you are buying the product.
- Maintenance Fees: These charges can vary, but is usually based
on a percentage of the initial sale per year, the number of licences
purchased or the amount of known users. Either way you should make
sure that the first year is free of this charge as you will need
to contact Support regularly during the start-up phase.
- Licences: Industrial software (i.e. not 'Off the Shelf')
is mostly based on Licences purchased at the point of the initial
sale. A Four user licence will mean that up to Four people can
logon to the system at the same time regardless of how many Workstations
it is installed on. Check there is a Time-out option that will
close down a user (therefore freeing up a licence) after a set
period of time. Check the cost of additional licences.
- Customisation: If possible try to avoid this as this will not
only increase the costs considerably but will probably cause issues
when Upgrades come out.
- Data Conversions: You will never get a perfect 100% correct
data conversion from your old system (or Excel sheet) over to your
new system. It can be a messy job but can save a serious amount
of time when trying to get your new system started. Your Project
Manager (from the Software House) should discuss this with you.
5. Training: Knowing a package and being able to train
it are two different things. You will need to be able to field questions
from all sections of the company up to director level with confidence,
demonstrating that you know the answers or can provide a work-around. On
top of this you will need to keep control of the training course, show
that you can listen and evaluate the trainees concerns. Never try to hide
or side step issues as they will get bigger.
6. Ownership: In order for the system to work you will
need the cooperation of everybody who will use it. Full disclosure in advance
while involving the resources in the implementation process will help later
when you expect them to start using it.
7. Data Capture: Once your system has been Installed
\ Configured the next step is to input data. At this point it is vital
that you follow set Goals and Targets that are realistic in the systems
roll-out. Take a set area, product etc. and try getting this working before
diving full in. If this works fine then move on to the next. If not then
you will only need to tweak the small amount of problem data before trying
8. Software Tests and Validation: There is no such thing
as bug free software though you may find simple applications come close.
Ask for the last Software Test Results and notes on system Patches, plus
a list of Known Bugs. If you are required to Validate your system (typically
this will be in an FDA Pharmaceutical environment) then you should ask
the software house to provide the Protocols. They will charge for these
but this will be preferable to creating the extensive documentation yourself
especially when they know the systems inside and out when you do not. If
possible investigate to see if they can provide a resource or advice on
who to contact that can provide the service. This is a very time consuming
process which will involve full time resources.
9. Hats: You will only understand how to implement the
system if you can wear the hats of the different users. They all have needs
and concerns which are important to them so you will have to see them from
their point of view.
10. Project Plan: A Project Plan is not just a Gantt
Chart showing events, but a combination of documents that let you control
a project with all its Deliverables, Responsibilities and Risks. Constantly
review the plan with the resources involved.