By Birket Foster
CEO, MB Foster
First of two parts
Whether you’re renovating your kitchen, or migrating your IT platform and applications, projects that change your life need planning to succeed — and planning starts with details including a budget. If you’ve never created a dream kitchen, how do you know if you can afford it? Adding new refrigerated spaces that pull out like drawers, or rerouting traffic between refrigerator, sink and stovetop, you’ll need an expert to guide and help you get the job done on time and within budget. A guide’s experience not only saves money, by ensuring you can muster all the resources needed to mitigate challenges and prepared for the tricky bits.
What are the drivers?
There has to be a reason for the project. Whether it is more mouths to feed or equipment that is too old and doesn’t function properly there is always some reason for the kitchen project to get chartered. The same is true with a server or application replacement project – is there a need to scale up the processing because your business is growing or the business wants to mitigate risk on an old server? There is always a driver for this kind of project. Start by documenting your business drivers and what the cost is to keep the status quo versus making a change.
The following aspects of framework will determine what you’ll spend.
Five Stages: Kick-off
In general, there should be five stages in your project: a kick-off, assessment, detailed planning, execution (implementation) and a post-project activity list. The kick-off is really important as it defines executive sponsorship, the high level scope, facilitates governance for the project and develops the organizational communication plan. The tricky bit is to gain approval for the project, including the second stage, the assessment — which is often man-weeks of effort across all of the enterprise, with looking at the major workflows (one example: order to cash), and collecting data from every group that is impacted by the application.
The kick-off earmarks a budget for the assessment stage and sets the project in motion with a budget, timeline and deliverables for this phase — which include a report on the ROM (Rough Order of Magnitude) for completing the overall project, and major decisions that will have to be addressed. Once the kick-off takes place, the assessment can proceed. Coming out of the assessment should be a ROM for the costs of the next stage as well as for completing the project.
Making a project work is never without costs, and estimating migration costs involves both high-level planning and a detailed study. Once you’re beyond dreaming and looking at kitchen brochures it’s time to enlist the help of an expert. The experience from a migration guide starts you on a path — a trail whose first steps are often taken in front of your company’s executives.
The assessment sets out the facts in great detail — what are the current costs and risks both on a business and technical side? It takes into account all the business benefits that this system supports and looks to see what the business impact could be if the server and its application are not changed out. To be more specific, what if the server fails, the cost of the downtime — the calculation that’s called MTTRO, Mean Time to Recovery of Operation.
Getting the facts for this kind of executive seminar — where top managers build their confidence in IT’s ability to ensure that the job gets completed on budget and on time — is the least costly step. Set expectations with the executive management team that the first step and funding requirement will be $25,000-$50,000. Extra costs will come if applications workflow, data quality and technology options need to be researched.
A migration expert can help take IT through the options, and have detailed discussions with the impacted business units about workflow and business goals that are impeded by the current system. During this process the wish-list items and critical success factors can be documented and put into an Assessment report that can be shared with the executive sponsor.
Your migration partner can bring skills to the table in organizing the presentation and rehearsing it before making the presentation to your executives. Often the migration partner is invited to help deliver the presentation, which gives the meeting the benefit of being able to call on that partner team’s experience in similar migration scenarios. The report presented should include the ROM — timeframe and budget as well as the options on both the business and technology sides and be actionable by the client.
Next time: Planning by application, execution and testing, and the post-project list