'Large-Scale' Strategies

John Webster

Heed an implementation pro’s words of wisdom, and you’ll see that oversized implementation challenge succeed.

With a major PeopleSoft implementation at Dakota State University under his belt, you could say that Peoplesoft Program Director and Assistant Professor of Computer Education John Webster knows large-scale enterprise technology projects inside and out. Current projects include global deployments of educational-use enterprise software-hosting solutions known as CRESH (cresh.dsu.edu) for PeopleSoft and GSS for Microsoft (crm.cresh.net). In addition, Webster owns a commercial software hosting company, CRESH Inc. (cresh.net), which specializes in hosting PeopleSoft HR and FIN applications in the small- and mid-market sectors. Webster is also a computer education professor at Dakota State, hosts a curriculum repository (oncampus.cresh.net) for 67 schools in 13 countries, and serves on the Academic Advisory Board for PeopleSoft (www.peoplesoft.com).

10 - Make system security a key part of your project from Day One.

  • Security starts inside the firewall and works by layers (hardware, software, personnel) to the outside.
  • Short of unplugging your server, you won’t avoid hacking attempts.

9 - Recognize that project managers make or break projects.

  • A good project manager is part pit bull, part Mother Teresa.
  • Take people skills over technical skills any day.

8 - Centralize project communications, top down.

  • The project manager is responsible for all project communications. Always.
  • Communication is not a four-letter word, but the fallout from bad
    communication can elicit a string of them.
  • Never leave system users guessing—timelines and updates spell success.

7 - Consider everyone’s views on business process planning.

  • Bending a system to fit your desires, and vice versa, are time-consuming and expensive.
  • Modifying processes should only be done after a solid business case
    is made to authorize the investment.

6 - Remember that in the beginning, no one really understands the scope of a large IT project.

  • Projects are fluid, and large projects ebb and flow like tides.
  • Statements of work are more than guidelines, but are not the Holy Grail.
  • Building a fully integrated, bulletproof IT system is an expensive
    and challenging process.

5 - Getting data from different systems to cooperate with the new system is a noble, yet frustrating coordination challenge.

  • This is where your patience counts and pays off in the long run.
  • Quirky bolt-ons are part of life—you must build a system that works
    with them.

4 - Enlist seasoned professionals to help develop realistic project requirements.

  • Everyone on the project must know his technical and functional limits.
  • Never underestimate the time it takes to update the skills of existing staff.
  • When reviewing quotes on technical requirements or performance,
    build in some “we blew it” buffer.

3 - You can never plan enough when it comes to business continuity, disaster recovery, data security, or resources.

  • With consultants, time is money—their time and your money.You’ll never have more money than they have time.
  • The project must walk a fine line between wants and musts,
    with the unplanned wants wreaking havoc on budgets and nerves.

2 - Build support for your project from the top down.

  • The right mix of business and IT involvement is essential in deploying
    a system that will do what was promised.
  • You don’t want to run out of support before you run out of project.

1 - Change management is like dancing. Take it one step at a time.

  • One person’s new IT system may replace another’s comfy niche. Change can be scary!
  • Change must be beneficial, not just cool.
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