Avoiding Common ERP Implementation Pitfalls with a Proper Scope Document

Effective ERP implementation project managers know having a well-defined scope of work (SOW) document is the key to a smooth, successful ERP implementation project. A thorough SOW sets clear expectations for both partner and client by listing specific personnel responsibilities and associated tasks, materials, equipment and deliverables.

Simply put, the SOW presents the big picture of an ERP implementation project including timelines and cost while outlining how the project will meet strategic goals. By itemizing your project’s objectives into the SOW’s specific action items, you’re able to remain goal-oriented and focused on solving your organization’s specific problems. From the client side, the scope document is used to communicate the goals and expected results of the project and to ensure that key issues are not overlooked.

While the terms “Scope of Work” and “Statement of Work” are often used interchangeably, the terms technically have different meanings. The statement of work defines a project by establishing its objectives, deliverables and performance criteria. The scope of work, an element within the statement of work, specifies what tasks a project team will perform to meet project objectives.

Besides offering a bird’s-eye view of your ERP project and keeping you on task, the core of the SOW is helping organizations avoid common and often major pitfalls. Proactively identifying that which can derail your implementation project is critical. In fact, acknowledging the potential risks of an ERP implementation project and mitigating the fallout is one of the key elements to crafting an excellent scope document.

A common pitfall is making assumptions of the other parties through the course of the project. You’ll need to look beyond your own assumptions to identify and uncover assumptions on both sides of the project. For example, you might be under the assumption the ERP implementation consultant is managing the data import while the consultant assumes you’re providing data entry staff. Identify as many these assumptions as possible to avoid misunderstandings and project delays.

Plan for the foreseeable problems before they become an issue. Consider the additional workload for specific employees, hidden costs, hardware concerns or time overruns when trying to plan ahead. Through the creation of your SOW, you clearly define roles and responsibilities for your team members. List all of the team members and their specific roles to avoid confusion. Inevitably, unexpected issues will occur, so to whom will your staff report problems? By clearly outlining how an issue should be escalated and to whom, the problem can be resolved swiftly.

Similarly, which staff members are authorized to request and approve changes to the SOW? It is not uncommon for a project to require changes so you should always have a process in place which includes a form requesting changes as well to whom the request is to be sent for approval. Having the right people on the implementation team focused on change management and leading the organization will help you turn potential setback into minor hiccups.

Be sure to outline what will and will not be addressed, especially if your ERP implementation is broken into phases. An ERP project manager who can address the most important issues without getting distracted by side tasks goes a long way in keeping team members on track, too. If you are considering a second phase or future project, reinforce the current project goals by scoping out the next phase and being as detailed as available information allows.

Consider how you will measure success. Are there specific benchmarks that define progress in your view? The company’s view? What about your consultant’s view? Including this information in the SOW will help illustrate the expected results and how they’re communicated over the course of the engagement.

A good Scope of Work lays the foundation for a successful project. While it’s important the SOW to be clear and detailed, try not to make it too restrictive. Additional work which is not detailed in the SOW can create frustration both for the consultant and the client, but building flexibility into the scope allows for all parties to react to internal or external changes. In the end, your SOW is your guiding light throughout the process. Your ERP implementation consultant will be happy to help you define a proper scope document.

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