A Software Implementation Nightmare of Epic Proportions – Part 5

Non-profit organizations are designed to help others. But sometimes they can’t help themselves. In the case of “Hope”, we’ve seen how good intentions without good information morphed into a project far beyond financial reach.

This horror story could have been avoided. But it’s something that occurs painfully, and more often than not, quietly in dozens of companies and organizations each and every day.

In the conclusion, Hope’s CEO takes a stroll towards the future.

On the Road to Damascus

Like so many people who take the first step into purchasing a software management system, it all seems so straightforward in the beginning:

  • Keep the price down;
  • Stick to what you know;
  • Deal directly with the vendor;
  • And don’t involve a middle man – that will only ramp up costs and confuse things.

Hope for “Hope”

Today, Jack, Hope’s CEO, is among the converted – convinced that a combination of due diligence and hiring the right software management consultants could have made all the difference to their journey.

“Looking back, the scope of the project was bigger than we realized,” he says. “Primarily, it was the amount of integration required, and the various components and activities of business that increased in scope.”

Jack says now it was unrealistic to think that the project could be accomplished basically on the side of someone’s desk. They needed to have dedicated staff. And they needed something else – a reality check.

A Reflection for the Future

“We needed healthy second reflection on the scope of the project. We’re a visionary organization, so there’s no shortage of ideas around here. As individuals everybody has good ideas, and we might want all the bells and whistles. But sometimes living in a $1-million house is not as attractive as a $500,000 house.”

Jack says the charity also missed the mark when it came to researching the vendor.

“We needed a higher degree of comfort around whether they could deliver what they promised.”

Jack says working with an advocate would have made a huge difference.

“They would have given us a realistic picture – someone informed enough to know the strengths and weaknesses of the party we were going to. A consultant would have been able to look at us and say: ‘Sure, you can have that, but it’s going to cost you $50,000. Do you really want that?’ What we learned was the bottom line moves really fast.”

Looking back, he realizes that with anything there are always sacrifices. His team could have sacrificed integrating the mortgage program, or integrating the pension fund. Instead the team sacrificed something much more precious – time and money.

And Hope Survives

Jack’s a survivor. And so is the charity he works for. The new portal is now working for the global workers and it’s much improved. Donors are contributing and sending in “wow” responses on how well it runs.

But you can hear him wince when he thinks about what transpired.

“Day to day, we tend to become lost in the weeds and lose perspective. An outside consultant can help us avoid that.”

With a new year in their sight, there’s a sense the road to recovery might not be much longer. It’s required a lot of give and take, and for those who have stuck through it all, workers like Richard, Linda, Alice, Donald and Jack. It’s been a testament to their belief in faith, in Hope and in charity.

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