Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We’re busy selling the company

This is a true story. The company name has been changed.

The situation

Acme Corporation was well under way in implementing their new ERP package. The project was on schedule and running smoothly.

Then, the Acme Corporation’s owners announced that they were putting the company up for sale. The core project team was suddenly unavailable for three or four weeks. They were busy working on reports, answering questions for the potential buyers, and supporting the due diligence efforts.  As project team members, they were supposed to be finalizing design, completing procedures, and preparing training materials.

The accounting staff in the branch offices was also doing work related to the sale. They were kept busy answering questions from potential buyers, touring them through the facilities, and answering questions from customers. As extended project team members, they were supposed to be gathering, verifying and mapping data for entry into the new system.

At the branches, they also speculated…was the project cancelled, should they stop gathering data for the new system?

The project manager and project sponsor had not imagined that there was any possibility of a sale of the company, so there was no provision in the project plan for such an event.

When the extent of the project delay was assessed, the project was about three to four weeks behind schedule.

Analysis and recommendation

What did the project manager do? She worked with the core implementation team to evaluate the available alternatives.

The options considered were:
(a)   Add resources;
(b)   Move the deadline;
(c)   Change scope.

Adding resources would not help at this stage of the project. Anyone qualified to help the core team would have reduced the accounting staff in one of the branch offices, which would also delay the project. So, with that option eliminated, they looked at changing the scope and/or deadline.

The team felt strongly about keeping the deadline as planned. The deadline had been carefully chosen, with thought given to budget time, vacation schedules, year-end accounting and reporting needs, and impact on amount of data to be entered in the new system.

The project manager and core team’s decision was to reduce the scope of the project. There were several items in the scope of the project that, although important to the company, could be removed without impacting daily processing on the “go-live” date. These items were identified for deferral to a follow-up phase.

Approval and communication

The project manager and core implementation team presented their plan for changes to the project sponsor.

The sponsor approved moving scope from the current phase to a newly defined follow-on phase. The sponsor made arrangements for the core team to continue with the follow on phase after the current “go-live” date.

The project sponsor announced to the accounting staff in the branches that the project was continuing, and advising them of the changes made to the plan.


The project (now phase 1) did “go-live” on the planned date. The work deferred did get completed in the new second phase.

This project management tale took place due to a sale of the company.

However, the analysis of the solution is appropriate for any situation where the project has been delayed and a decision has to be made regarding how to get back on track.

Copyright 2015 Debbie Gallagher