The Project that almost failed
I have been recently involved in a Public sector HCM implementation in Qatar. The project was intended for an entity which had more than 15 subordinate entities all within the scope of the implementation; the plan was to simply implement a pilot for 5 entities and then after the customer went live execute waved rollouts for the remaining entities.
After conducting the project kick-off meeting with the customer, blueprint phase was initiated, and serious risks and challenges were identified.
- A new HR law was introduced country-wide, and some of the entities had not yet managed to do a full transition to the new HR law.
- Public sector bureaucracy was a real risk, commitment towards the project from stake-holders would vary from an entity to entity; escalations would require weeks to get resolved.
We had to go back and re-think our engagement model, if we were not able to obtain a buy-in from the stake-holders we were heading towards a failure implementation, and even though this was not entirely our responsibility, this was not a choice due to the strategic value of this customer here in the MENA region.
We came up with a new engagement model:
- Merge blueprint and realization phases. Yes this would be accompanied by a risk of endlessly arising requirements; however it was a tolerable risk compared to the risk of implementation failure.
- Conduct bi-weekly ‘Show & Tell’ sessions, in each of those sessions we would demo end to end processes.
- Each session would take into consideration the feedback collected from the previous sessions.
- Instead of dealing with each entity individually we’d have one session conducted in an auditorium with participants from all entities.
On the first session, we started with an intro which included an overview on the project status, our new methodology ‘Show & Tell’ sessions we then quickly moved to a system demo, to avoid boring the audience with presentations 🙂
You could tell interest level was rising as we moved along with the demo. Previously when conducting individual blueprint workshops, we’d rarely get a comment or a question. However, this was different, by having all entities together in one room – this created a competitive environment and participants started actively engaging in these sessions. Moreover instead of showing them RAW SAP screens, we had relevant content which they could relate to.
Another key success factor is that we managed to push key messages which addressed specific pain points to highlight the change SAP could bring -the messages were relevant for all stakeholders.
Executives from Parent Entity:
- Centralization that would ensure full transition and governance of all participating entities to HR law, however SAP would still provide a degree of flexibility to adapt internal policies through the use of Enterprise structure groupings.
- Budget Preparation: facilitation of budget planning process through real-time integration with different plan versions (active/planned) of their Organizational structure & employee’s master data.
- Out-of-the-Box BI Analytical reports & dashboards which would provide an executive view on all participating entities.
- Ad-Hoc reporting: create and design operational reports in no-time, no assistance required from IT.
- Universal Worklists: consolidating all workflow approvals in a single inbox accessible through internet browser.
- Automation of retroactive calculations: back dated transactions impacting employee’s salary would automatically trigger retroactive payroll, hence taking the differences into consideration in next Payroll. This is very common here in public sector as numerous transactions on employees such as promotions/transfers/salary increase are entered on the system only after certain approvals are made.
- Off-Cycle Payroll: ability to pay employees payroll in advance for a specific period, this was really crucial as it is common for public sector employees here to take annual leave spanning more than one payroll period and be paid in advance, this required extra effort in their existing systems as it had to be done manually.
- Transparency & Employee Enablement through Employee Self-Service: Enable employees to initiate and track Leave requests, Loan requests, Return
from Leave requests, etc. – all through internet explorer.
The Pilot went live, the customer was really impressed by the outcome. We executed Wave 1 & 2 successfully, and we are currently in the process of executing Wave 3.
Every project has its own challenges, however I think the key is being able go back and rethink your strategy in order to adapt with the customer environment and current challenges.
Really interesting how you targeted the key messages to the different stakeholders. I'm curious how the customer was involved in the re-thinking of the engagement model. Was this a collaborative re-think with key project team members or did you iterate with the client after presenting the concepts?
Planning and re-thinking the engagement model was purely done by the project team, however we did share the model with the client before proceeding..