Marathon vs. EPM Implementation
I recently completed my third full marathon and while I was running, I was thinking about the marathon preparation and how it compares to an EPM implementation. Actually, preparing and running a marathon is like implementing and deploying an EPM solution. I intentionally include the preparation of the marathon because there is no way you can run a marathon without a proper preparation the same way you cannot deploy an EPM solution without a proper implementation.
Hal Higdon, a famous writer who ran more than 100 marathons, mentions in his book that a marathon race is the reward of the training and the training is the harder of the two, that’s the same for an EPM implementation, users see the end result presented to them and for which they will be trained but before that, long months and long hours have been spent preparing for this important moment.
Coach and Plan
In both marathon training and EPM implementation you will need a coach (or a partner) and a plan. There are several marathon training approaches: the Hanson’s way, the Jack Daniel’s method (this method is not based on whisky drinking), the Chicago method just to name a few; you can find a good list of trainings and a comparison here if you are curious about it.
The bottom line is: there is no one size fits all plan when it comes to marathon training, exactly like with an EPM solution. Choosing the right plan and partner depends on multiple factors including your level of experience, your state of mind, and also personal preferences. A good training for track speed can help to some extend but won’t assure you a good marathon training. Same with an EPM implementation, you need to find the right partner for your project, a consulting provider can be excellent for implementing an ERP and not appropriate for EPM. Keep in mind that Carl Lewis with 10 medals at the Olympics and 10 medals at the World Championship had a hard time running more than 30 minutes at the height of his carreer.
Vision and Goals
When you decide to start the marathon journey, you need to have a goal. You will also want to start small, build confidence and then grow your expectations. You can start with: “I want to finish my first marathon with a smile on my face”, then “I want to race the Jerusalem Marathon and see the city like no one else”, and maybe after a couple of races, might want to aim higher: “I want to run the Boston Marathon” because in order to race the Boston Marathon, you need to achieve a Boston Qualifier (BQ) and it is pretty challenging.
With an EPM implementation, it is pretty much the same, you cannot implement your EPM vision with one big project: you need to start with a smaller sized project, build on it to progressively to achieve your EPM vision. Implementing a full EPM vision in one project is the same as wanting to qualify for the Olympics on your first race.
The marathon road is long and your goals can change over time: you can be injured, or move to another city, or get a new job and that will impact your marathon training. That’s why it is good to have a vision and steps to achieve it. As long as you have your vision and work on achieving it, you’ll be fine ultimately. Again, it is the same with an EPM project: things can happen, team members can leave, new ones can join, you can have M&A activities, reorgs, changes in management, changes in the market or the economy that will impact your project. In any case, keep your goal in mind and “adapt to the situation like water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows”: all you want is to ultimately achieve your vision.
You did not meet one of your goals: don’t panic, it happens. Review your race and understand why it did not work: wrong goal? Wrong plan? Wrong coach? All at the same time?
One race is just the beginning, you will need experience to improve your performance and your fitness, it is the same with EPM projects, remember that you want to execute projects to realize a vision, a bump in the road should not derail you from your vision.
Even when a project went well (or a race went well) make sure you understand what went well and why to capitalize on it. Your objective is to make the next project a success as well, this snowball effect will make your stronger and more confident.
Have a good equipment: good shoes make a difference, a good T-shirt as well. Same with EPM, don’t select the wrong solution: evaluate potential solutions, select wisely. Install a recent release of the solution to benefit from the latest features the same way you won’t run with flip flops, nor with 1970 running shoes.
There is nothing more frustrating than a nice application running on a poor infrastructure. Servers are cheaper than ever so don’t undersize your machines. This also applies to users machines: why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to run the latest version of Hyperion if your users have old laptops with deprecated versions of Microsoft Office?
Cheering vs. Executing
There are a lot of people cheering but ultimately, you are the one who runs: it is up to you to deliver. You can have the best plan, the best approach but it the end, you will need to execute.
To make it happen, you need to push and sometimes, the last stretch will require you to push hard. It is the same with a project: everybody can be excited and motivated but you will need to push to make it happen: during the ultimate delivery phase or when it will come to user testing or training, or roll out. You will need to sweat to deliver, no other option.
I have seen T-shirts and hoodies to celebrate EPM implementations but as far as I know, there are no medals for EPM project so if you happen to race somewhere and come back home with a medal: cherish it, you earned it!