Preventing Scope Creep in ERP Implementations
Learn more about scope creep in ERP implementations and how to avoid it.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are robust with various features, some more suitable for one organization than others. The availability of several features within an ERP software can lead to a gradual expansion of the scope, which is called scope creep. Though more functionality is an exciting prospect, extra requests beyond the original scope can negatively impact the project timeline and budget.
Scope creep can happen at any phase of the project and have significant effects in the long run. But the good thing is that you can prevent scope creep if certain steps are followed. In this post, we examine what scope creep is and how you can avoid it.
What is Scope Creep?
In project management terms, the scope is the outline of the requirements and deliverables of a project. In most cases, the scope is defined at the beginning of the project planning process, and it should be covered in the project plan or roadmap. Experts define scope creep as a subtle deviation of the project from the actual scope by adding new features and software customizations. It is the slow and often unnoticed increases that occur to your original ERP scope of work.
The impact of scope creep can be costly, often leading to extended deadlines and additional fees. Your team may also lose sight of the original goals, or the core issues your ERP project was meant to address, leaving your end-users dissatisfied with the ERP project, which can also lower adoption rates. Why does this happen? It’s often caused due to poor planning, lack of efficient team collaboration, misaligned expectations, poor communication, or when unexpected issues arise.
7 Ways to Prevent Scope Creep During an ERP Implementation
Luckily, there are some ways to help your company mitigate the risks of scope creep from your ERP project. Tracking and handling project scope is key to a successful implementation. Follow the following preventative measures, in the beginning, to control scope creep and keep your ERP implementation project out of the failure zone:
Define Project Objectives and Scope
In order to manage any project effectively, you need to define project objectives and scope thoroughly. At the beginning of your ERP project, you must ensure that all requirements or deliverables are already outlined in the scope statement of the project plan. And that everyone working in the team is aware of these. This way, you will have a roadmap to guide your project, which can be used during unanticipated circumstances to decide whether to accept the proposed changes. You should also document your project requirements. Discuss deliverables, milestones, budgets, roles, and responsibilities with all your stakeholders.
Set Up Change Control Processes
It is not always possible to avoid requested changes that come as a result of stakeholder or end-user feedback. However, you can prepare for them by having an effective change control process. This ensures that the change requests go through the proper channels. With the help of this process, you can evaluate and understand the effect on the project, cost, or timeline to the fullest extent. Basically, it is a process for team members or stakeholders to submit change requests, involving a step for those requests to be analyzed by the project manager and other main project stakeholders and a system to assess if the requested changes will be approved, denied, or deferred. Setting up a change control process is critical as it enables you to regain control over your project while allowing flexibility to include new requests if needed.
Hire an ERP Partner You Trust
The most effective way to prevent scope creep is to hire an ERP partner you trust and be upfront about risks and potential scope creep. Ask your ERP partner about their strategies for managing scope creep and evaluate their ability to maintain a project scope before hiring them. You should also ensure your team reviews the Statement of Work before beginning your ERP implementation.
Create and Stick to a Clear Schedule
Task and time management are essential to sticking to your project’s scope. It is important for every task to be clearly defined, prioritized, and assigned. Yet, it is quite easy to lose track of time spent on tasks if they are not broken down and scheduled clearly. One of the simplest ways to do this is with daily scrum or stand-up meetings. These are quick check-in meetings that help keep people on track and remind them that they are a part of the team with the same vision and that support is there if they need it.
When you outline the schedule, make sure you have planned for some events. As noted previously, changes are inevitable. Project scope creep only happens if requested changes are not properly managed as defined in your change management plan.
Involve the Team in the Decision-making Process
Be it a project manager or a programmer; everyone has to receive feedback and suggestions from their team, higher management, or end users. You may get tempted to regard each and every requested change, but it could negatively impact your business in the long run.
Ideally, you should consider all aspects of the change, assess each option, discuss it with your team, and make the final decision based on your team’s feedback. The involvement of your team will enable you to determine your ability to implement changes and your willingness to do so. Their input will be useful when you come up with revised timelines and scope documents.
Communicate Clearly and Often
Since changes and new requirements arise during the ERP implementation, the project team and outside consultants must communicate how these fit in (or don’t) with the scope and the effect that they have on the budget and timeline. Communicating clearly through the correct channels with the stakeholders and ERP partners helps prevent scope creep.
Learn to Say No Where Applicable
At times, a change request may come up from upper management or other internal stakeholders that clearly does not add value to the project or may negatively affect your work in the long run. In such situations, there is no harm in rejecting change requests if the situation demands them. If the stakeholder is set on making specific changes, try compiling their requests into a different project phase.
At times, scope expansion is crucial to put together a proper solution. In other cases, it is unnecessary for the project's current stage and may put too much risk on the project timeline and budget. The key is to have complete control over the project scope and business requirements and practice clear communication. This will allow your project to stay on track and help develop the ideal ERP system.
Learn how Kwixand Solutions Can Help
If you're looking for an ERP partner who can guide your ERP project and help you meet your objectives without going over budget or timeline, we're here to help. We are a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner based in Vancouver, Canada, and we help businesses across the US and Canada digitally transform and thrive. We offer 2 different types of ERP implementation methodology to help businesses mitigate the risks of going overbudget or over schedule - Kwixstart implementations for small and midsized companies and our 2 phase ERP implementation methodology. Book a free consultation to learn more or if you have any questions.