One of root causes of project problems are what I call “The Big Miss”.  “The Big Miss” is a major piece of functionality that is not in the software that nobody realized was missing until the project is well underway.  “The Big Miss” can be found as late the software already being in production.

My first reaction to “The Big Miss” is how in the world all these smart people could miss this showstopper requirement.  Why wasn’t it caught earlier in the RFI, RFP, blueprint and/or testing depending on the phase of the project?  Easy for me to say but in reality it happens.

Seeing “The Big Miss” several times, here are the steps to get is resolved:

/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/project_302511.jpgRealize You Have “The Big Miss”

“The Big Miss” starts to surface innocently as a “how to question” or a support message due to a suspected software defect.  As it works its way through the process, hours turn to days that turn to weeks that turn to months.  All along the way, the project is burning cash.  Once you suspect there is some missing functionality, request a call with the software’s Product Manager.  In one call you will find out if you have “The Big Miss”.  Acceptance of “The Big Miss” is a major step to getting it resolved.

Don’t Waste Time Looking for Somebody to Blame

Once “The Big Miss” is confirmed, a natural reaction is who is at fault.  This can start a “finger pointing” exercise that will tear the team apart when you need everybody to rally around the crisis.  There will be plenty of time later for a post mortem with corrective action for future projects.

Don’t Count On The Product Changing

If the software is missing a major piece of functionality it is more than likely because other customers haven’t needed the functionality or it is on the roadmap.  Adding the functionality to the vendor’s roadmap and then working it into the product takes time that will not help you in the short term.

Don’t Heavily Customize the Software

A natural reaction is to start slinging code…Good coders can write anything.  The problems with heavily customizing the software are the support issues that will be created after the software is put into production.  Upgrading to future versions will become a problem.  Who will maintain the customizations?  What if the new functionality eventually gets put into the product?  All of these are long term issues you create to solve a short term problem.

Contact Other Users of The Software

The software is being used by other customers and they might have solved the problem another way.   Search the internet for a solution.  Get your software vendor to connect you with other users.  Attend user group meetings.  Once you find an alternative, you can work the business process to fit the software.

Don’t Be Afraid To Restart The Project

If all else fails, the project needs to be restarted.  Nobody wants to admit defeat but some situations are beyond repair.  Take the lessons learned and restart the project with a different software solution.

I am interested if you have experienced “The Big Miss” and how you got it resolved.  Please comment below or join the conversation @SAPChampions on twitter.

About SAP’s Chief Customer Office

SAP’s Chief Customer Office has “customer satisfaction” as our only metric.  In the Chief Customer Office, our group is asked to evaluate struggling projects, determine the root cause of the issues and put together a resolution.  During the assessment process, we interview key people from the business, IT, system integrator and software partner.  These interviews help determine the root cause of the issues.

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