Leaders in many organizations mistakenly think that project managers are solely responsible for implementation success or failure. On the surface, such myopic and shortsighted views may appear true — if lots of tasks are late and over-budget, then of course the overall project will follow suit.
However, looking more closely it becomes clear that project management is only one dimension among many required for implementation success. For example, a solid business case, executive support, success metrics, and even budget are all critical factors over which the project manager may have little control.
An academic thesis, titled ERP Adoption in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (PDF download), reinforces the view that project management alone offers a limited, and not particularly useful, definition of implementation success. Although focused on ERP, the lessons hold true for any enterprise software deployment:
[M]uch evaluation of ERP success is based on meeting project targets and milestones but little is done to measure the effect on organizational effectiveness. An unsuccessful project, in terms of project targets and milestones, could still be successful in terms of improved business value.
In this statement, we see the weak link that often prevails between project management and organizational value or benefit. Assuming project participants want to do the right thing, which is usually the case, tunnel vision occurs when the team slavishly aims at narrow project metrics without adequately defining outcomes that are meaningful to the business.
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