When speaking with vendors, the most widely cited risk that can cause a project to fail is a failure to clearly state the objectives.
In many cases the project will be the implementation of a new application or system, where a poor implementation that results in a system that is not optimised, can leave the organisation in a worse position than if it had not put in the new system at all.
While there are other reasons for the failure of a project, such as reluctance on the part of end-users to use the system or inefficient and over-complex processes, if the objectives are not clearly defined and understood by all parties involved in the implementation, then the project cannot succeed.
The first task that should be undertaken when planning an implementation is to define the objectives for the project, to determine what the organisation wants to achieve from the implementation. Defining the objectives is one of the key stages of any implementation and ensuring that they meet the business requirements of the organisation is key to a successful deployment.
Now this may seem an obvious first stage, but from the number of projects that fail for this reason, it is something that not every organisation pays sufficient attention to. The objectives or drivers behind an implementation may be, for example, to improve the efficiency and speed of processes, to add automation into processes, improve the productivity of users, provide better management of processes, for compliance purposes, or to reduce costs.
Consultation should also be undertaken to discover what each line-of-business requires from the system in order to help define the objectives.
This will also help to promote user buy-in to the project. These objectives should then be referred to throughout the implementation and once the system is up and running to ensure that they continue to be met.
However, it is not just the organisation itself that must understand the objectives. Many implementations require the help of services from an external party, and it is imperative that these personnel also fully understand and are able to deliver the objectives.
A failure to do this could be a costly mistake, as another cause of failure in implementation is selecting the wrong partner, who is unable to implement the solution in a way that meets the objectives of the organisation.
Far too many projects fail, or at least are not as successful as they should be, because organisations do not pay sufficient attention to deciding what they wish to achieve from the implementation.
At the end of the day it is all in the detail, and if the detail is not right then the organisation will make a very expensive mistake, which in some cases has caused companies to fail. A little bit of extra time and attention at the beginning of a project can save a lot of time, effort, and cost at the end.