Step 2: Success Measurement

how-to-choose-business-management-systemOnce you have completed your due diligence in regards to internal preparation, you are now ready for success measurement. You may wonder why we start the process with something that can only be determined at the end of the project.  As the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

Defining upfront how you will measure success at the conclusion of the project sets the foundation for achieving success with your implementation.  Many studies point out that more than 50% of projects fail or are challenged in some respect (The OASIG Study, 1995; The Chaos Report, Standish Group, 1994, 2001, 2003; The KPMG Canada Survey, 1997; The Conference Board Survey, 2001; The Robbins-Gioia Survey, 2001; to name a few).  A quick search on the Internet will bring up many more examples, some pointing to a failure or challenge rate as high as 68%.

Defining success is the first step to being successful. Some mistakenly believe that the first step is to tell their IT staff to call some vendors for software demos or perform product evaluations.  This is not about software features and functions.  It is not about the software your competitor or friend uses.  This is about your business; where you are right now – versus where you want to be.  It is about the challenges and constraints you face as well as your goals and resources.  This is about your business, and, your business is unique.  It has its own requirements.  Defining your objectives and requirements may not be easy, but it is definitely worth it as you proceed with this process.

This will not be the last time we discuss business objectives, but, since it is the first major discussion, the only reason for considering a business management system (or any other system) is to help you meet your business objectives.  You derive the inherent value in any business management software from the results it enables your staff to produce, which will bring about the business results you are looking to achieve.

A number of years ago we took on a client who sold frozen food and merchandise to groups who were looking for a way to raise funds.  We helped them realize that frozen food and merchandise was not their product.  Their product was the system that made the process easier for the teachers, coaches and volunteers who chaired the fund-raiser.  Understanding their true value-add changed the focus of the project from managing inventory to improving the customer experience in order to retain competitive advantage.  They now understood their objective and chose a business system that enabled them to meet their corporate objectives.  They were able to continue to grow their business and reduce reliance on part time staff as they saw a 50% improvement in productivity from the project.

There is only one measurement that matters in the final analysis: did the project enable you to meet your business objectives?  Traditional Project Management measures the success of a project by Time, Budget and Features.  (Was the project delivered on time?  Was the project delivered within budget?  Did the project deliver the features requested?)  These measurements may be deceptive.  You can achieve 100% success on these three measurements and still have a failed project because you did not meet your business objectives.

Let’s go back to our house analogy for a moment.  Let’s say that you want your house on a body of water.  Is that water a river, a stream, a lake, or a pond?  You can’t answer that question without knowing what you want to do.  Do you want to look at the water?  Do you want to fish?  Do you want to water ski?  Do you want a nice sandy beach where your young children can play?  Are you and your family on the same page about the water?  The objectives you define will affect your budget and options.

Base your budget, time and required features on your business objectives.  If you do not fully define your business objectives, then the three traditional measurements of project success will not be of any value.  Your attention to the hard questions at this stage will pay big dividends as you begin to move through the process.

Stay tuned for Step 3 – Asking Questions throughout the Entire Process