For any type of business process improvement project, but especially ERP engagements, your project communication plan is the common thread to both project successes and failures. One out of every five projects fail due to ineffective communication, even if you took the time to create the best project communication plan.
The importance of communicating throughout the entirety of your ERP project cannot be understated, and exploring why projects have failed due to ineffective communication can help lead you and your project team toward success.
5 Common Causes of Project Failure
The International Project Leadership Academy recently published an article outlining 101 common causes for a failed technology project. With respect to ERP implementation, there are five mistakes that happen frequently due to the nature of the project. Here is some further explanation on these five areas, and how having a proper project communication plan plays a vital role in preventing each one.
1. Lack of understanding of project goal or vision
This is one of the most common complaints among project team members and employees, and it happens when the project communication plan is simply not clear on why the project is happening, why now is the right time, and why the ERP system was selected.
What is the best way to ensure your team has an understanding of the benefits a new ERP system can bring to your company?
Communicate your project goals and vision from the moment the project is kicked off to the moment it concludes. Here are some additional steps you should take to make sure your team is on track with your project communication plan:
- Provide a project portal or website that highlights the goal and vision. Provide project updates, important project dates and a weekly dashboard of progress toward that goal.
- Designate one room on-site as the command center. Make sure the project goal and vision are clearly displayed in this room, along with project dates, and a weekly dashboard showing progress towards the main goal. If your company functions across multiple locations, it is important to have a designed command center at each location.
- Send out weekly updates via email, meetings, etc. to the project team and employees. State the project goal and vision on all publications. In each weekly communication, make sure to demonstrate the progress that has been made toward the project goal.
2. Lack of Stakeholder Engagement
Stakeholder engagement relies heavily on a flawless project communication plan. Be sure your stakeholders are aware of your role, the project, and the progress that has been made. Keep in mind that you will need to:
- Identify the stakeholders and decide what level they need to be involved. Contacting each stakeholder is key in establishing your relationship with them, and establishing their relationship with the project.
- Identify the needs and interests of each stakeholder. Listen to their needs and interests, and provide a clear response of how these can and will be met by the project.
- Make an analysis of each stakeholder’s interests.
- Determine how you will communicate with each stakeholder and the frequency of that communication.
3. Lack of Project Governance
Project governance is the management framework within which project decisions are made. A lack of framework in this area decreases the clarity of the project goal and vision.
How do you avoid this type of pitfall? By communicating the defined ERP project team roles and responsibilities of your Board/Steering Committee, Project Manager and Project Stakeholders both via email and to your portal or website. It is important to revisit this when you prepare and conduct your monthly Steering Committee meeting, to make way for ongoing communication around your project and its governance.
4. Lack of Understanding of the Project Scope and Requirements
During an ERP implementation, it is extremely common for organizations and their project teams to not fully understand the desired outcome, and the reason why the path was set toward an ERP solution. You need a solid understanding of what you want to achieve, guided by the documentation of the Business Case for Change to maintain the project scope and understand the requirements.
5. Failure to Manage Risk
An ERP project team must be able to identify, communicate, and understand risk. It is their primary responsibility to ensure all risks are correctly communicated in writing to the client, ideally in the form of a risk log or register, and announced during project status and Steering Committee meetings.
It is human nature to seek ways to avoid conflict. In order to effectively manage risk, one must not be afraid of conflict, because communicating risk is not communicating a failure of the project. Rather, is a way to ensure success. Once the risk has been recognized, the business then has an opportunity to determine if they want to accept, avoid, or mitigate said risk.
It is important to establish open lines of communication, understand and agree upon an ERP risk management plan, and understand and respect the relationships between the customer and project team. Remember, the common goal and focus when establishing and managing your risk plan is to understand that sometimes you will have to renegotiate.
Learning from Failure to Create Your Project Communication Plan
You may be asking, what really makes a project successful? One short answer is understanding the importance of a succinct project communication plan, and recognizing you and your team cannot work together without it. Then, keep the 5 pain points mentioned above in mind, and set them on your project radar as obstacles you may run into during your journey.
To learn more about how Ultra can help you create your project communication plan, contact us today.