The Importance of Project Management Services

By Lesli Hines | March 30, 2015

You have received your new proposal from your partner for a Microsoft Dynamics Implementation and are reviewing the services section looking for ways to trim cost. At last your eyes land on the item, you were looking for and that you are anxious to hack away at like a bad hangnail – Project Management Services.  You as the budget-conscious client think to yourself “this is a redlined item that everyone on my client team can get behind. Cutting Project Manager services won’t have any negative impact on the project deliverables – the Project Manager is really not doing anything so our Implementation won’t suffer.” Not so fast….

The Project Manager role is one that often gets cut from the ERP Implementation Services proposal or at best, pared back to a bare-bones administrative role. For years I was in Business Development and it was the first place prospects looked to cut costs in their services when the budget was constrained. Having served in the role of Project Manager prior to my Business Development efforts I knew first-hand the dangers of trying to succeed at implementing an ERP system without having a Project Manager so I was well prepared to counter these objections.

Clients often justify cutting the Project Management services with reasons like:

  • I can save money on Project Manager services to add more scope either through more functionality or additional licensing. (Sounds dangerous to me – like putting more passengers on a bus without a driver.)
  • My people are good communicators so I don’t need someone to send out emails. (Project Managers are not only effective communicators but they do much more than passively send emails.)
  • Our project isn’t that complicated said the 50M company – we can self-manage. (An ERP implementation is complex regardless of the size of the company because a change in the business process is complex for the combination of systems and humans.)
  • The last Project Manager we had just printed a weekly status – we didn’t find value. (I will admit that not all Project Managers are effective Project Managers – but if you had one rough landing on your flight you wouldn’t choose to fly all your future flights with no pilot.)

And many more reasons have been offered but I would caution you to truly question yourself and the rationale for not wanting to invest in this aspect of your project considering the brutal statistics on project failures. I know what you are thinking to yourself – having a Project Manager isn’t a guarantee to project success – and I agree, but it does start to stack the deck in your favor.

Good Project Managers in ERP Implementations accomplish the following:

  1. Manage, plan, and decide on very important and potentially scarce resources throughout the life of your project. The Project Manager directs how to spend your service dollars, gives input to the internal employee resources, and looks to manage both in the most efficient manner rather than the more expensive method of ad hoc work effort.
  2. Keep the project organized and prioritized which helps close the gap of the promised ERP solution and the business value realized at Go-live.
  3. Minimize scope creep – they watch to make sure the project doesn’t morph out of control through Change Management document for smaller items and Steering Committee involvement on larger scope items.
  4. Work on constantly selling the project internally at the client, proliferate a sense of urgency, and keep morale up. They keep the project moving even in the midst of organizational politics which is more difficult to do from within the organization.
  5. Identify and communicate risks to the project team to constantly be dodging bullets.

This is just a brief list of the ways Project Managers help projects stay on track. It is important to make sure you secure a Project Manager who has the functional skills of Project Management but also the soft skills or emotional quotient (EQ) to make your project a success, which is harder to discern in an initial meeting.

I will say that it does take a special kind of person to willingly step forward to say “I want to manage this complex project and lead the charge” on an ERP Implementation that typically has very aggressive timelines and potentially unrealistic budgets, but day in and day out Project Managers say “sign me up” because we love to transform the chaos and deliver a successful Go-live project.

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