A Software Implementation Nightmare of Epic Proportions – Part 3

The case study of “Hope” reveals much about the human condition that is applicable inside the corporate boardroom and wherever people gather together to think up new ways to do business more efficiently and effectively.

But sometimes vision gets in the way of reality, and it becomes impossible to see the truth for fear of being turned to stone.

Jack London, in his book The Mutiny of Elsinore wrote, “The profoundest instinct in man is to war against the truth; that is, against the Real. He shuns facts from his infancy…from Medusa-Truth he makes an appeal to Maya [illusion] Lie.”

And such is the case here in:

The House that Jack Built

Businesses know what they need and they know what they want. What they don’t know is: how feasible is that?

The Ideal System

“Hope” wanted one product that could perform a multitude of tasks:

  • Provide a donor database;
  • Improve the existing financial accounting system;
  • Enable overseas workers to access their individual spreadsheets;
  • Tie-in access to the pension fund;
  • And finally, provide a mortgage program for its various church agencies.

Integration was critical, and the service provider assured them this could be done – they could keep the same platform and install improvements to it.

Sacrificing for the Greater Good

Hope moved forward. The global workers went offline November 30, 2009, expecting to access a live system by the end of March 2010. They knew they would lose a few months and were willing to work with that.

March 2010 came and went. Frustration mounted. Workers at head office were now spending time accessing the global accounts and sending emails so on-the-ground workers could be kept up-to-date. Meanwhile, direct communication with the donors ceased entirely. It took until August before systems were up and running.

Dealing With The Fallout

“The team was left in conflict,” says Jack, our CEO. “Integration was so critical, but the vendor was not able to deliver the bells and whistles, and the key problem was the vendor was not able to keep with the dates.”

As the project increased in complexity, more workers had to set aside time in their day. Hope had allocated five people on the team, but none of them full-time. Jack oversaw the project, but the major hiccups required even further involvement from additional key leaders.

Finally, Hope hired two consultants to roll it all out – another cost not in the budget. Bottom line: a massive headache, and the daunting task of trying to cope with a much-diminished operating budget.

Hindsight is 20/20

“When I look at it now, I have to step back and question whether we were endeavoring to maintain a level of complexity that is unreasonable,” says Jack. “We’re like the young couple that’s building a house. We have the builders, and the workers, but there needs to be a general contractor looking over it. What do we know about IT? We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, and this is not our core business.”

A fantasy, that became a nightmare.

How does “Hope” resolve this nightmare at the head office and around the globe? Discover what happens next in Part 4 of – A SOFTWARE IMPLEMENTATION NIGHTMARE OF EPIC PROPORTIONS next Thursday. If you missed last week’s chapter in Hope’s story, be sure to read Part 2.

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