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ERP Implementation Tip #13: Track and Manage Project Issues with a Gaps and Issues Log

Tip #13: 5-Steps To ERP Risk Management

Our firm’s president, Peter Gross, has been implementing IT systems for over 30 years.  He explains the importance of this risk management exercise, as follows:

One-third of an ERP implementation project is planning and mapping.  The remaining two-thirds are made up of data migration, testing, and issues tracking and resolution.  Diligent issues tracking and resolution is the only way to avoid implementation failure.

As you move from the mapping phase through to the piloting phases, unforeseen issues will inevitably arise.  Very rarely, if ever, can theory drafted on paper be transplanted into the real world without variation.  It’s simply impossible to anticipate all of the possible variables and constraints.  Once you’ve accepted the fact that issues will inevitably arise, the next step is to develop a mechanism that allows you to address the issues in a productive way.

Enter the Gaps and Issues Database – the go-to reference tool for ongoing management of all project issues.  The Database is more than a passive recording tool.  It is a project management tool that helps the project team drive effective issues management.  The project teams use the Database to rank issues and plan for their resolution, if necessary and when necessary.

At a minimum, an effective Gaps and Issues Database should include the following 5 key elements:

Key Element #1 Issue Prioritization

Each issue should be assigned a “high”, “medium” or “low” priority.  “High” priority issues are showstoppers that, if unresolved before cutover, would have the potential to kill the project.  “Medium” priority issues require timely resolution but do not threaten project success.  “Low” priority issues are those issues that would be nice to have resolved, but would have little material impact if left unresolved.

Key Element #2 Sub-Priority For IT Involvement

The IT personnel are responsible for personalizing and/or customizing the software as well as for resolving the technical issues for all of the functional departments.  To effectively manage the huge demands on their time, issues that require IT involvement must be sub-prioritized on a scale of 1 to 10.

Key Element #3 Issues Impact and Description

For each issue, the functional areas that are impacted are to be recorded.  A brief description of the issue is also to be recorded.

Key Element #4 Closure Plan, Planned Close Date and Resources

The recommended resolution strategy is to be summarized along with the target resolution date.  Ownership for resolution is also to be allocated and recorded.

Key Element #5 Approvals

Certain issues require steering committee or other forms of approval.  Any required approvals must be documented.

A Gaps and Issues Database helps the project team track and prioritize issues, and plan their resolution.  By implementing a process to manage gaps and issues, the project team will turn issues resolution into a fact-of-life, normal-course part of the project.  However, if an issues-management process is not implemented, untracked problems will inevitably turn into a project-threatening three-headed dragon.

You won’t want to miss next week’s ERP implementation tip.  In it, I will discuss the change management plan – the fourth and final deliverable of the mapping phase.  You will learn how to develop appropriate training plans and how to plan job transitioning, among other things.

Remember: if you have any questions about your ERP project, contact our ERP experts – they’ll be happy to help.

Good luck with your ERP implementation projects!

Your POV (post comments below)

  1. What tips can you offer to keep tracks of project gaps and issues?
  2. How do you ensure that people actually use the gaps and issues database?

In this series of weekly ERP project management tips, we walk you through an ERP implementation project using Pemeco’s “Milestone Deliverables” project management methodology.

You can buy our project management book and CD of template forms “Milestone Deliverables: The Hands-On Approach to Implementing ERP Projects”. Click here to learn more. Learn about our ERP implementation services by clicking here.

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