In my experience with implementation plans, I have found that there needs to be a fair level of detail in order to ensure project success. The implementation should be divided into phases that detail who will complete each activity, a timeline for each activity’s completion, and when the the activity has been completed. Each activity should be defined using a standard work breakdown structure (WBS) methodology.
I have found that mostly the vendor has a standard WBS with project phases that is adaptable per to each organization. As the vendor knows the software the best (i.e., tech requirements, past successes and failures of implementation), it should be written in to the request for proposal (RFP) that the vendor include the standard implementation documentation along with their response. By reviewing each of the vendors proposed implementation plan, the organization will be better prepared for allocating resources, planning technical purchases, and scheduling the project.
By having a detailed implementation plan in hand prior to the final vendor selection, the organization will be better prepared to know actual costs of the implementation and planning the application launch. Some of the pros and cons of having a detailed implementation plan include:
Pros for Detailed Implementation Planning
1. Detailed planning details individuals. A detailed implementation plan should include the specific activities associated with at each phase of the project. A detailed plan should include the identity of the individual(s) responsible for completing the work. This is an advantage for the project manager, as the project manager will know who to check in with during implementation.
2. Detailed planning facilitates better time management. By compiling a detailed plan of all theproject activities, a more accurate project schedule can be created. As many organizational IS resources, vendor resources, and departmental resources have to be scheduled and budgeted for; the more detail the plan, the more accurate the project schedule.
3. Detailed planning for better project implementation reporting. During the implementation of the project, it is important for the project manager to update the project sponsor as to the progress of the project. By having a detailed plan, reporting project status is easier for the project manager.
4. Detailed planning facilitates better communication. As the project manager will need to keep track of the completed activities of the project, having a list that details who is doing what will be very useful when the project manager when he/she needs to get project updates.
Cons for Detailed Implementation Planning
1. Detailed implementation plans take time to prepare. A standard breakdown of project activities and phases may exist from the vendor, but these will have to be customized for each organization. This type of planning can take a long time and details that address the project resources and schedule can sometimes be hard to accurately estimate.
2. Detailed implementation plans are subject to change. During theimplementation planning phase and the actual implementation, many changes may have occurred, which will be a burden for the project manager to maintain these changes.
3. A detailed plan may not be necessary. For custom-built IT solutions, detailed plans may not be feasible. For IT projects that entail a customized software be built, it may be better to use a Kanban or Agile project methodology that would not require detailed implementation plans.
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Christopher M. Bell