Human success factor

(Estimated reading time: 3 - 6 minutes)
Carsten Severin

Carsten Severin

As Head of Project Management Office (PMO) at KUMAVISION, he is responsible for project implementation and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)®, Scrum Master and Product Owner

Project management usually focuses on the factors of time, cost and scope. These three factors can be quantified and thus enable objective planning, control and evaluation of projects. What is left out, however, is the human factor. Our experience from more than 2.000 customer projects clearly shows that the success of a project is not only influenced by hard facts, but also by soft factors such as acceptance, engagement and commitment of everyone involved.

While key figures can (more or less) be easily recorded and mapped by software, the human factor is different. The following 10 tips from the Project Management Office (PMO) of KUMAVISION will help you to make your project a success in this respect as well.

1. Communicate goals transparently

"What's the point of that?" The introduction of ERP software is sometimes viewed critically by employees. Therefore, communicate the goals and expectations of the project to all employees - not just to the project team. Regular project information - for example in the form of a newsletter or blog on the intranet - is a good idea: report on the progress of the project, introduce key users, give insights into new technologies and the advantages that the company expects from them. Even if management is not directly involved in a software project, they should clearly express their commitment from the start.

2. Take fears seriously

Buzzwords such as digitization or automation sometimes lead to fears such as rationalization or job cuts. The result: the project is slowed down or even sabotaged by employees – often unknowingly. Take these fears seriously. Explain openly which processes and areas of activity will change in the future. Make preparations in good time, for example to qualify employees for new tasks. Change management must never be limited to IT issues and the process landscape, but must take the entire company into account.

3. Create free time

Those involved in the project are usually still involved in day-to-day business. Introducing ERP software on the side does not work. The specification of requirements, the testing of new functionalities, the coordination with the software partner or the review and optimization of the process landscape takes a lot of time. Create the necessary freedom for the project participants in advance - and explain to the respective departments why.

4. Select the appropriate project method

Classic with functional and requirement specifications, an agile approach or a mixture: The importance of the project method is often neglected. On the one hand, it should be tailored to the scope of the project and, on the other hand, to the corporate culture. For example, agile methods such as Scrum focus on the human factor and associated values ​​such as commitment, focus, openness, respect and courage. But which method is the right one? KUMAVISION maintains its own Project Management Office (PMO) with certified specialists who, among other things, further develop project management methods, train their own employees in them and advise on projects. This ensures that the company, project and method fit together perfectly. In addition, while large software partners implement dozens of projects a year, companies only have an ERP project every 5 – 10 years. Appropriate training and support for those involved in the project (workshops, agile kick-offs, etc.) are therefore indispensable.

5. The chemistry has to be right

The project managers play a key role on both sides. They form the interface to employees on the customer side or to developers and consultants. It is all the more important that it not only fits in professionally, but also on a personal level. What may sound like a truism is not so easy to implement in practice. Because every project manager brings his or her own experience from different industries, cultures and company forms. Anyone who has worked with classic project methods in a corporate environment for years will find it difficult at a start-up that relies on agile methods. Here, too, larger ERP providers who have a broad team of project managers and consultants have an advantage. By the way: Replacing a project manager is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. The realization that a different constellation works better helps everyone involved – and the project.

6. Involve key users at an early stage

An ERP implementation "decreed from above" will not work. Even if the IT department is responsible for the software: The early involvement of employees from the different departments creates acceptance on the one hand, and on the other hand employee feedback is indispensable in order to optimally adapt the new software solution to the company's requirements or your own to critically question processes. The earlier the key users have the opportunity to work with the new system, the more specific the feedback will be, and the earlier discrepancies will be discovered. If you are also working with real data on the test system, the switch is made even easier. By the way: The "ideal" key user is not necessarily a department manager, but rather the employee who actually works with the system every day afterwards. Be sure to create conditions in which your employees can contribute on an equal footing without hierarchical boundaries. Your software partner should also introduce the key users to their new tasks and provide them with the necessary know-how for this role.

7. Use standards

Even if your employees are highly motivated: You don't have to keep reinventing the wheel. Wherever possible, use optimized processes and standardized procedures. This creates security, saves time and frees up space for those points where really company-specific adjustments or completely new processes are required. KUMAVISION offers the possibility of using packages for the ERP implementation (setup, configuration, training, etc.), which bundle proven procedures in practice. This gives you direct access to experience from over 2.000 successful projects.

8. Provide support offers easily

Even after the live start, there are questions. Our recommendation: Offer employees a simple and direct route to support. For example, through support packages with time quotas that employees can use freely. Because if every support ticket has to be approved by superiors in advance, the willingness to ask questions dwindles, which will ultimately affect the efficiency of dealing with the new ERP system.

9. Celebrate graduation properly

Let's be realistic: The introduction of new business software is sometimes a major effort for everyone involved. It is all the more important to reward this achievement. Whether it's a summer party or a hike in the Alps: a joint celebration shows the appreciation for the project staff, offers the opportunity to review the project in an informal setting and once again conveys the importance of the project to the entire company.

10. Establish an error culture

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better" - the quote from the writer Samuel Beckett adorns the walls of numerous start-ups. Wherever people work together, mistakes happen. Establish an error culture that allows your employees to leave their comfort zone and create something new. Only then can the project and employees develop their full potential.

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