An article entitled “A Succession of Failures” tells how “vendors and customers can avoid the communication errors that occur during…implementations.”
Gone might be the days when we heard of a spate of lawsuits against software vendors, but there are still plenty of project failures to go around. One thing to consider that the article points-out is that few failures are usually a complete failure. (My own comment to that, though, is that just because something is not a complete failure does not make it a success, which I say to all those over-cheerful folks who always like to declare a “win” regardless the situation.)
A couple key items the article touts to avoid a total project meltdown are “flexibility and communication.” These are key items to consider not just for scope management but also for items such as buy-in and general management of the project.
While this article sounds as if it were written about our industry’s vendors and customers, it is actually from “CRM (Customer Relationship Management)” magazine. I subscribe because it sometimes has excellent articles that are entirely relevant to our industry. Just replace the term “CRM” with “LIMS” or “ELN” and you’ll see it, right away. You can find this article listed until with the other October 2010 articles at: http://www.destinationcrm.com/
It seems particularly timely to mention these issues because I was just speaking with a few other consultants about the importance of flexibility to keep project costs and failures down – an issue that continues to be a problem. As we try to force software vendors to provide every feature imaginable, it is difficult for them to refuse in this competitive market. But, as we wait for them to provide everything desirable to our projects, our scope is increasing, our timelines are dragging along, and our projects continue to risk cancellation and other bad tidings.
Thus, the flexibility to let some functionality go out-of-scope for the current project phase or forever, plus the ability to communicate the decision, both continue to be not just important – but difficult for many projects to accomplish. And part of communication is learning to say “no,” to mean it, to get the project on-board to enforce it, and to understand when the “no” really does have to be reversed (that is to be, it comes back to flexilibility, once again).