Planning for Your Organization's PeopleSoft Implementation

By Kathy Martucci, PMP:

Editor’s note: This is the third post in a series about implementing PeopleSoft projects. The second post on initial considerations for PeopleSoft implementations can be found here.

It’s no accident that there are two processes in Project Initiation and twenty in Project Planning according to the Project Management Institute.  Many organizations make the costly mistake of diving right in because there is “no time to plan”.  On the contrary, most projects fail in the beginning as planning efforts are sacrificed for “action”.

In spite of the organization’s impatience, it’s your responsibility as the Project Manager to educate senior management in the advantages of compiling a thoughtful and reasonable plan before jumping into project execution.

What are the key points to consider when planning a PeopleSoft implementation? Here are some factors to consider:

1. Scope Definition: Even if the organization compiled the world’s best Request for Proposal for a suite of software, the process of reviewing and verifying those requirements (and discovering new ones in the process) is absolutely essential for the proper scope definition of a PeopleSoft project. Especially if more than one module is to be implemented, requirements must be considered in light of a tightly integrated system. For example, configuration of the budget and general ledger modules can have a substantial and often irreversible impact on the sub-modules of Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. It may be worth dedicated PeopleSoft training for the project team and subject matter experts to increase their understanding of the system in order to articulate those requirements more definitively.

2. Work Breakdown Structure: Once the requirements are fully understood and gaps between what is and what should be are clearly identified by your seasoned PeopleSoft integrator, the WBS can be crafted with a solid foundation. However, software configuration and modifications to bridge gaps are only two out of potentially hundreds of other work packages including the elements of communications, stakeholder management, quality, risk management, hardware procurement and set up, testing, and training.

3. Project Schedule: Once scope is fully defined and a solid WBS is in place, employ the best possible experts to define, sequence and estimate required resources and time for each work package. When you develop it to your satisfaction and present it to management, resist the temptation to meet their often unrealistic expectations to implement such a game-changing system within their timeframes. If the timeframe doesn’t meet with their approval, craft at a scope that will. Even though the notion of the Triple Constraint (Time, Scope and Cost) is losing favor according to PMI, it is still true in concept. Something’s gotta give!

If the above considerations aren’t daunting in and of themselves, that’s not all. There are seventeen additional processes (according to PMI, that is) that the PM should at least consider before Execution begins in earnest.  Again, it is your duty to lead your organization through these processes even while senior management is questioning what your team is doing all this time.

How will you convince your senior management to invest serious time and effort in the planning process?