Don't have a V-8 Moment
Expecting big dollar savings by short cycling your major systems deployments. As great as it sounds, trying to reduce costs in this manner creates risk before your project is out of the starting gate. You'll be headed for a "V8 Moment".
What is Short Cycling?
Short cycling comes into play when key elements of the project are skipped or decoupled from the main effort. Skipping key project work streams such as process definition, change management, quality assurance, or training run the risk of project failure. Doing so will result in a lack of functional capabilities, organizational preparedness, and system operability issues: all or any one of these can lead to inadequate end-user acceptance.
Another type of short cycling occurs when teams execute major project work streams outside of or before the main project. In these situations, a deep void develops respective of information that other streams rely on in the project. The associated risks include a lack of shared vision, project team misalignment, and an absence of perspective and context needed for dependent project stream success. One common example is when organizations perform process definition without using expert facilitation guidance. When this occurs, the participants fail to consider best practices and focus on defining business processes as they know their business today. They also lose the benefit of factoring-in system capabilities that can streamline or optimize a process even more.
This approach fails to adequately identify the functional requirements necessary to address the system design. It will also result in poor process narratives, which make successful change management, training, and software quality efforts difficult. The impact of this short cycling approach is costly. It fails to address and collect information crucial to success. In the end, it impacts everything from system design to change management, and when this occurs, the intended project ROI gets lost due to poor end-user adoption.
Project Ramp Up
Fred Brooks coined the phrase 'nine women can't make a baby in one month.' The premise of this statement relates to how adding incremental resources to a project does not achieve the intended result. Brooks' statement also implies that you can not short cycle the process of making a baby using the 'nine women' analogy.
In his book The Mythical Man-Month, Brooks underscores that new workers must be given 'ramp-up’ time when entering a project. Respective of decoupling and short cycling process definition, there becomes a loss of significant discovery opportunities (a.k.a. ramp-up). Here, the inadequate ramp-up risks creating chaos downstream. One example is the differed engagement of crucial change management or technical resources until after business process workshops. When this occurs, it makes it difficult for those participants to ask questions because they have little if any context in the decisions made earlier in the project. All of this can lead to a high likelihood of a loss of completeness, quality, user acceptance, and not to mention the project schedule.
One principal reason for engaging an implementation partner should be to get the proper industry experience and techno-functional skills embedded in the project. Experienced implementors will also bring a proven delivery methodology that is successful. Given the investments of time and money before implementation, having a structured approach to planning and execution of transformational projects requires expert guidance. It is the ultimate critical success factor and can be your greatest weapon against failure.
So, why would you short cycle your project, when doing so risks rework that can be significantly costlier than the intended savings that short cycling was to avoid?
BTW, if you are of a different generation than I and don't know what a V8 Moment is, click here.