A football team would not go into a big game without a game plan. They have scouted the other team to try to understand what will happen in the game and developed a plan around it. A major upgrade takes the same kind of preparation. What is your upgrade strategy? Will you duplicate existing processes in the new release or will you look for opportunities to implement new functionality? Will you try to eliminate modifications or bring over everything as-is? What about roll-out strategy? Will you phase the upgrade or go “big-bang”? What is the risk vs. cost of each method? How will you train and support your end users? Is this a 6 month project or a 2 year project? An upgrade assessment should answer 3 major questions:
1. What is your resource availability? If your game plan calls for a heavy running attack but your star running back is injured, you might need to either rethink your game plan or make sure you have another playmaker. Similarly, if you want to make major improvements in your warehousing processes but your key resources are busy bringing a new distribution center online, you may need to rethink your project strategy or see if other knowledgeable resources are available. This is also a big part of your budget so you really need to know how many, and what kind of, resources, both internal and external, are required for the project. Most companies look at the cost of external resources because it is easy to measure. Some companies add the cost of internal resources to the budget and some don’t but in either case you need to know if sufficient resources are even available. Even in a technical upgrade, some internal resources are required and in a process improvement project, you have to consider the availability of business, as well as IT, resources.
2. How much will it cost? IT Leaders are faced with a dilemma on every project - overestimate the project and you jeopardize approval, underestimate it and you risk having to ask for more money later. An upgrade assessment can help identify all costs associated with an upgrade project. It doesn’t necessarily make the upgrade less expensive but it does give you more confidence in the accuracy of your budget.
3. How long will it take and how it will impact the business? A major upgrade project usually means that other IT projects must be put on hold. How long will other initiatives have to wait? What will be the impact to the business? Can the business and/or IT handle another major project right now?
These questions and others should be answered BEFORE obtaining funding for your project. An upgrade assessment can give you confidence that you that your project budget and timeline truly reflect the costs and tasks required for success.
What's your gameplan?
October 20, 2011
by Bill Franklin