Case Study No. 1: A Successful Implementation
For example, in one very successful implementation, the project plan was mapped out so that each quarter, a piece of the project would be completed and provide value to the end users. At the end of each quarter, there was a mad rush to meet the deadline and the deliverable was achieved. The phases were completed as follows:
- Phase one was an accurately priced professional proposal that could be generated in minutes.
- Phase two provided integration with the customer's homegrown legacy systems that automatically generated performance curves. (This was essential for their customers and took the engineering department days to generate prior to this project.)
- Phase three provided the electronic integration with the company's computer-aided design (CAD) system to allow certified drawings within seconds of configuration. This saved the customer nearly four weeks in production delay once the order was received.
- Phase four involved dynamically generating a bill of material that integrated with the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, eliminating order entry errors and reducing order entry time from a day to a minute.
One of the many benefits of this project was that sales and marketing received significant value from the application within 90 days. Their expectations were low and the functionality they received was significant. Sure, there were issues that needed to be worked out, but the users were able to voice their concerns early, which led to modifications to the project that were unforeseen and would have been expensive show-stoppers later in the project.
Had they waited for the complete functionality before deployment, the cost to fix the bugs would have put the project in jeopardy and severely reduced the return on investment. Instead, the changes were made and the project continued on schedule, eventually finishing on time and under budget.
Value is not gained until the application is deployed to real users, outside of the project team, who do not know all the intentions of the project but who ultimately will be expected to use the application in their daily job functions.
Case Study #2: Don't Wait for Perfection
One manufacturer put together a very comprehensive project plan, executed it flawlessly and even put on demonstrations to the sales team showing them how it worked and how much easier their job would be when they finally got the technology. The problem was that these demonstrations did not include the user actually physically working on the system. The engineer who did the demonstrations made it look so easy, everyone enthusiastically praised the project. When the application was finally deployed, the users found that the application was too difficult and time consuming to use and the project that was considered wildly successful turned out to be a disappointment. Even though the project team had kept the end user involved and included along the way, they never actually required them to test and use the application until IT felt it was "perfect."
Why does this happen? IT has no incentive to deploy a system until it is perfect because they are measured by the quality of the deliverable and they rarely get the credit for the value achieved once it's deployed. If the application helps the salesperson sell or helps upper management better control margins, the credit will likely go to the business users, but if problems arise IT usually gets blamed. So their goal is to make the application as perfect as possible before deployment in order to reduce the complaints. Unfortunately, the return on investment gets delayed and the software held responsible.
Case Study #3: The Importance of Rapid Implementation