Joe Hoover: One of the most challenging components of an ERP implementation project is project governance. While this aspect starts with the project management, it extends to the executive sponsorship as well as the actual project team members who are implementing the ERP system.
Project governance is the biggest determining factor of how successful a project will be, especially as we look at public sector projects that have a fixed price and are deliverable based. It is extremely important that the project management governance model is clearly identified before the project gets underway. When we think about project management, and I'm sure Barbie has experienced this as well, the greater differences you have in expectation versus reality, the more troubles you run into throughout the implementation, problems that usually start in the project management office.
I had one particular project manager at a statewide implementation that had the traditional name tag on top of his desk, but he didn't have his name in it. Instead, he had a simple statement in place of his name that said “no surprises.” From a project management perspective, it’s your job to do everything you can at all levels of project management to prevent surprises. Although there will always be surprises, what you want to try to prevent are those significant and critical surprises because when you encounter them, which essentially means that you're not managing the project the right way.
Barbie Hunley: When someone asks or says, "explain to me the importance of project governance," that's like someone asking, "explain to me the importance of leadership." That's what you need on any of kind of project like the ones we're discussing. You need a clear leader who is able to console the team during really hard times, but also be able to do everything they can to ensure there are no surprises – someone who makes sure that you're prepared every step of the way and sets the team up for success.
I look at this aspect as being coupled with change management. Humans are adverse to change, even though we're incredibly adaptable, we need leadership in preparing for the least negative impact. Having that PMO leadership is incredibly important, but executive leadership is equally so because their support helps promote the project.