Who can you trust?
After having been involved with enterprise applications over the last a couple of decades, I’ve come to the conclusion that not only is Project Management necessary for implementation success, but the PM must be independent from both the Customer (buyer) and the Implementation Company (seller). Here are the TOP 3 reasons. I invite you to add other reasons beyond these.
1. The Buyer is an Small to Medium-sized Business (SMB) and doesn’t have a well qualified and strong PM that can stand-up to the Seller’s PM and consulting team. I’ve seen it time and again that the Seller’s PM runs roughshod over the Buyer’s PM such that currently efficient business processes are set aside in favor of the application’s inherent business process. Yes, sometimes this is necessary, but there should always be debate and out-of-the-box thinking. Other areas of potential risk are exceeding the project budget, schedule, etc. Larger companies usually have internal PMO (a pool of Project/Program managers) that have experience in a specific area, so this may not prove to be a risk for them. If the PMO does not have that experience, my recommendation is to bring-in a pro.
2. The Buyer’s Project Manager cannot overcome his own (or someone else’s) operational bias, company politics, or otherwise difficult personality. A good Seller implementation team will first look at operational inefficiencies before emplacing supporting infrastructure. If the PM (again, representing himself or others) blocks improvements, then the Buyer will likely not get the ROI that they’d hoped for.
3. The Buyer’s PM doesn’t have experience beyond the application that is to be replaced. With this limited exposure to at least a couple of “competing” enterprise applications in other organizations, he/she will not be aware of all that can be accomplished. Albeit, although this is not necessarily the domain of the PM as it is of someone in the functional team, a PM having this experience has a lot to bring to the table.
Just a note to the SMB’s CEO or CFO: Whoever your advocate PM is, please let your team know you have his/her back, and that all politics and bias should be set aside. Everyone needs to be open to change.