Project Management and Implementation - A Look at the ERP System

Project management is a subject of many surveys, studies and programs. The nature of project management is such that it keeps on changing with time and technology. The main aim of project management is to streamline and automate business and manufacturing processes. This increases productivity and profits with the minimum number of people.

Before the advent of the computer and software, project management was industry specific. The same process could not be applied to different businesses. Computers and the internet changed all of that. Now all processes are linked to a computer in one way or another.

One of the most famous management software or protocols is ERP. ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning is software designed to manage both the internal as well as the external aspects of a business. This includes financial and human resources, materials and other processes. it also manages the connections between the company and the clients. The system can be installed on a centralized server which is connected to the other units or it can be installed on separate units where it is needed. This system can be applied to the following aspects of a business -

1. Manufacturing - this includes all the aspects of manufacturing like materials, engineering, quality control and cost management.

2. All the aspects of the supply chain. This includes inventory management, and orders and billing.

3. All the financial aspects are taken care of as well.

4. Human Resources - It takes care and keeps a track of processes like training, attendance, timing and benefits.

5. It also takes care of customer relationships.

The ERP system became gained fame in the 1990s when companies were looking for alternatives to the Y2K problem. The system was not web based back then and this was rectified and the new system ERP2 was launched.

Companies that are looking to implement this system usually hire consultants to do it for them. This is because of the complexity of the project and since most in-house software engineers lack the experience in implementing it. Shifting to this new system of management is difficult and time consuming. The time required to implement depends on the size of the company, the number of modules to be changed and the extent to which the system needs to be customized. On an average it takes 14 months and 150 consultants to implement the system. The implementation occurs in the following stages.

1. Planning 
2. Selecting and Training 
3. Testing 
4. Implementation 
5. Delivery

The price of the implementation depends on the degree of customization and the number of sites it is implemented at. The company that implements the system also provides support after it has been implemented.

The best thing about this system is that all the data can be kept up to date and viewed in real time since it integrates all the modules of the business.

7 Tips To Writing High Class Project Documentation

Knowing what documents to have in a project may be one thing, but to create high quality documentation is another. High quality documentation will ensure that everyone on the project is absolutely clear on what is required, what the status is and what it happening next.


Ensure that you keep your documentation as simple as possible by ensuring that you exclude any unnecessary information. Write you documents in clear, plain terms and limit the use of any abbreviations or terms that others may not understand. This will ensure that the documents are easy and quick to read.


Focus on the actual topic when you create your document. Think carefully about the content you will be adding to the document. List your topics and stick to them. Never go off the topic, as this may confuse the reader completely.


All your documents must have a clear structure, including a well-defined Table of Contents. You may want to include in your document the use of tables to improve readability, include diagrams to explain content further, use bold, italic and underlining to let certain areas such as headings stand out and when defining a number or group of associated items, use bullets.

The Story

Write your documents as if it was a story you are telling. This will improve readability and ensure that you have a captivated reader. Start with an introduction and inform the reader what the document is about. Then add the main content or body and make sure you close off the document with a summary or conclusion.


Write your document in such a way that it flows from paragraph to paragraph and topic to topic. This will ensure that the reader never has to stop to work out where they are in the document or what is coming next.

Amount of information

Provide the reader with the right amount of information. Keep it simple and short, but ensure that it is on the topic, informative and helpful. Never over explain everything as this may cause the reader to become bored reading your document.


Be passionate about the topic you are writing and ensure that you inspire the reader with the information you provide them. Be positive and inspirational throughout the document and you will excite the reader and you document will be a joy to read.

How To Implement a Project Management Methodology

A Project Management methodology is a series of phases, actions and tasks that needs to be followed in order to deliver projects successfully. However one of the major issues many companies experience is that once they have selected a project management methodology that suites their needs, they do not know how to implement the methodology successfully.

In order to implement a project management methodology successfully, you need to follow just 5 steps. These are:

Create an implementation plan
Customize the methodology for every project
Train all stakeholders on how to use the methodology
Constantly make sure everyone follow the methodology
Improve the methodology on an ongoing basis

The first thing to do in order to ensure that you implement the project management methodology successfully is to create a proper implementation plan. Take into consideration every action you need to do in order to complete the five steps listed above. Once you have done the plan, make sure you work the plan.

Not all projects are the same and because of these differences, you must be able to customize and adapt your methodology to such an extent that it fits the project. As long as you ensure that your overall methodology includes everything that may ever be needed by your projects, taking away from this methodology to fit your current projects should be easy.

One of the major failures in implementing any methodology is that the stakeholders are not communicated to as to the new methodology. You must train everyone that will use the methodology on the actual methodology and how to use it. Also remember that as new members join the team, that they are also in their induction trained on your methodology.

In order to ensure long term success of the methodology, you must through regular project management meetings and other methods of communication ensure that all stakeholders follow the newly implemented methodology. It may in the beginning require more effort to get all stakeholders to buy into the methodology, but once they start seeing the benefits, they will more easily adopt the methodology.

Lastly, a methodology should never be a cast-in-concrete thing, because as times change, so will your requirements and the methodology must be reviewed regularly to ensure that it is optimized and improved on an ongoing basis. A lot of feedback that may come from project management, not project feedback, sessions should provide input into improving the methodology.

If you follow these 5 steps and constantly improve and then re-implement your methodology, you should in no time have a very successful methodology that should be adopted by everyone in your team and organization.

5 Import Areas When Tracking Projects

Managing a project is not easy, with people, finances, time, equipment and materials to be managed on an ongoing basis to ensure project success. However, if you keep an eye on the following five important project areas, you will very much be on top of everything on your project.

1. Finances and time 

You must on a weekly basis review your project to see if it is still on track. You must identify all tasks that are slipping or running late and see if they would be delaying the overall project completion date. In order to re-assign time to more critical tasks, see if there are any non-critical tasks that can be delayed to later or even after project completion. Another method of time saving is to see if you cannot complete any tasks quicker and earlier.

2. Resource allocation 

You must keep a close eye on the percentage of time each of your team members are allocated to a task. If certain team members are over allocated and others are under allocated, you may need to look at reworking your schedule and working more efficiently. You may need to balance everyone's workload better so that everyone is allocated 80 to 100 percent.

3. Progress and efficiency of the team 

Not only must you continuously track the progress of every team member, but also the efficiency of every team member. This means that apart from the percentage progress everyone makes on his or her tasks, you must also check how many tasks are completed on time. Time sheets are very good tools in monitoring progress and efficiency of team members.

4. Risks, issues and changes 

All risks, issues and changes must be managed on an ongoing basis using appropriate management processes and forms and logs to record all these items. A great tip is to try and resolve any issues or risks as soon as they are identified, in order to minimize the impact they may have on your project. Changes must be discussed and prioritized with the relevant stakeholders on an ongoing basis and their impact on the project must be track and monitored.

5. Project health checks 

Tracking projects at a low level is part of ongoing project management, but you must also be able to every now and then during the project's existence sit back and review the project from a higher level to gain a view of the project's overall health and status. By taking a weekly summarized view of the project, you will be able to more effectively manage the project and lead the team.

Keeping these five areas constantly in mind during the entire project will ensure that you would be able to identify problems well in advance and then be able to act on these appropriately to ensure project success.

Choosing The Right Project Management Methodology

In short a project management methodology is all the steps you need to undertake to successfully deliver a project. This methodology will list all the project phases, activities and tasks required for successful completion of the project. It may also describe all these phases, activities or tasks in more detail and should also include all templates you may require. It may also, where applicable, provide you with practical examples.

In order to select the right project management methodology, you must first define your requirements. This will include describing what content you need, for instance must it list every project phase, action and activity. Must it be industry specific or can it be generic and should it also include the processes specific to your industry or organization. Further you must define the features it should include for managing your projects, such as reporting and tracking features and importing and exporting of information.

Another very important step is to review what you already have. This could be an existing methodology, documents and templates. If you have something that works 80 percent and maybe only need a bit of tweaking, why reinvent the wheel? Maybe you only need a few more templates or documented and formalized processes.

You may also want to do a bit of research on existing methodologies that are out in the market. These may come packaged with all your requirements, templates and features you have described already and can then easily be adopted for your specific needs.

If neither your current methodology or any market available methodologies provide for what you need, you can also look at taking best of both worlds and customize your own and existing methodologies to better suite your needs. This may be a bit more time consuming, but the benefit here is that it will closer fit your exact requirements.

Finally, when you have accessed all options and decided on a specific project management methodology, the most important action is that of implementing your selected methodology. In order to fully implement your methodology you must ensure that everyone adopts your methodology, you provide appropriate training on the new methodology, you communicate your methodology to all stakeholders, and you use your methodology in all your projects and ensure that you continuously improve your methodology.

By ensuring that you stick to these 5 steps, you can select the appropriate methodology and successfully implement and use it in your project management.

6 Steps to Initiate Projects Successfully

Numerous projects never even get past the detailed planning phase and the main reason for this is because they have not been defined and scoped properly and as a result there is no buy-in into the project or sponsorship is lacking.

Following the following six steps to initiate your projects quickly and efficiently, should ensure that they get the correct buy-in and sponsorship from senior management, which will ensure their survival.

Step 1: Create a detailed business case.

This must be done in conjunction with the business owner and must be detailed enough for everyone to exactly know what the business requirement is. This document will become the foundation of the project and must be approved by the project sponsor.

Step 2: Do a Feasibility Study.

Undertake a feasibility study based on the business case to determine the different solutions for the business requirement. Based on the business case and feasibility study a preferred solution must then be determined.

Step 3: Create the Project Charter.

The Project Charter is a very important document as this will combine information from the business case and feasibility study to describe the new project and its vision, objectives, scope, deliverables, project team and a high level project and implementation plan. The same goes for the Project Charter as for the Business Case in that it must be approved and signed by the project sponsor, as this will be one of the official documents for your project.

Step 4: Define your Project Team.

Now that the project charter has been defined, you can now define the team based on this information. Here the Board or Steering Committee must be assembled and a Project Manager must be assigned. It is then the responsibility of the Project Manager to recruit the rest of the Project Team. Depending on the size of the project, the Project Manager can also only recruit Team Leaders, who then in turn will recruit the members of these sub teams. Ensure that there is a defined and documented project job description for every member of the team, so that everyone understands exactly what their individual roles would be.

Step 5: Setting Up a Project Office.

Once you know who will be on the project team, the next step is to create a physical environment from where the project will be managed for the duration of the project. This must provide all the premises, tools, material and equipment for every team member and it is best to create a detailed checklist to ensure that nothing is missed when setting up the project office.

Step 6: Review the Initiation Phase.

Once you have gone through the creation of your business case, done a feasibility study, created the project charter, established the team and have set up the project office, it is necessary to review this phase in order to ensure nothing was missed and that you get approval from all stakeholders that the initiation phase is complete and you are now ready to move on to the next phase of your project namely the Planning phase.

8 Golden Rules When Starting New Projects

Starting a new project can be a daunting task, especially when you are new to project management. Many project management methodologies concentrates very much on theory, without providing actual practical examples of how to implement the learnt methodology.

In order to ensure project success when starting a new project, there are 8 golden rules to adhere to in order to ensure total project success. These are sponsorship, targets, scope, resources, planning, processes, tracking and reporting.

Project sponsorship is one of the most important key successes for a project and you must ensure that you have a sponsor that understands the business and knows the importance of the project for the business. The sponsor must also have the right level of influence in the business and be able to provide the necessary resources to ensure project success.

Confirming targets with the project sponsor and other key stakeholders is of utmost importance. A feasibility study will help to confirm that any targets that are discussed are achievable. Add a bit of "fat" into your project, both from a time and budget perspective to cover any possible future scope creep.

Ensure that you confirm the actual scope of the project upfront. This way you will ensure that any future scope changes can be managed successfully. Also, try and keep the scope to a minimum. The benefit of breaking up a large project into more manageable pieces, will allow you to deliver tangible benefits at a more regular interval, rather than a final project after a couple of years.

For project success, you must identify and find the best people for your project. Confirm your key project team as early as possible and communicate this to all stakeholders, to ensure their availability at the right times. You must also identify any additional resources that can assist you in any contingency situation. As a project progresses you will most probably need more people than you originally identified and having a "backup" team to fall back to is a great key to project success.

Planning is one of the most critical success factors in any project, as the project deliverables will be measured against this plan. The best method, I found, is to only do detail planning for the next three months, there after only at a high level. Also, never over-plan and list all tasks for the entire project right at the start. Your stakeholders will hold you to these plans.

Processes are another critical success factor in your project, as this will ensure that everyone working on the project adheres to the same standards and know exactly what to do. Ensure you have documented processes for items such as time management, cost management, change management and even risk and issue management. Ensure that such processes are communicated to all stakeholders and people on the project team.

Once you have your project planning in place, another important task is to ensure that you do proper project tracking. This will allow any stakeholder at any time to see what the status of your project is. Creating a dashboard for the different levels of stakeholders in the project is one of the best communication tools you can have, being it a high level summary for the Project Steering Committee or a more detailed dashboard for the team members on the ground.

The final golden rule for project success is project reporting. Make sure that you upfront agree on the detail of project reporting to the various stakeholders, as well as the time lines in which such reporting will be done, i.e. monthly to the Steering Committee and weekly to the active team members.

How To Create A Project Charter

The purpose of a Project Charter is to document the vision, objectives, scope, deliverables, organization and the implementation plan. It is important to set the direction and ensure that you obtain the buy in from all the stakeholders. The project charter will also help with managing the project scope.

To create a project charter, you need to follow the following for steps.

1. Project vision, objectives, scope and deliverables.

The first step is to define the vision. This states the purpose of the project and defines the end goal of the project.

Based on the vision, you must document the objectives of the project. These objectives describe what must be achieved by the project. You can use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) way to describe them.

When you have documented the vision and objectives, you can then document the scope. The scope will describe the boundaries of the project by describing how the business environment will be changed when delivering the project. This must include what is in and what is out on the project.

Once you have documented the scope, you can then document the deliverables that will be deliver.

2. Project organization.

In the organization section, you will identify how the project will be structured by describing who the customers are, the stakeholders and there different roles, everyone's responsibilities and reporting lines.

The customer is the person or entity that is responsible for agreeing the deliverables and signing of and accepting the deliverables when they are completed.

A stakeholder is the person or entity who may have a specific interest in the project. This could be people or entities directly involved in the project, such as the project owner, project manager and team members, internal to the organization such as the CEO, Financial Director who needs to provide financial resources or external entities such as other organizations or governmental departments.

You then list every key role involved. These may be the Project Owner, Project Sponsor, Project Board and Project Manager. You must also provide a short summary on the responsibility of each.

Once you have documented the full project organization you can then include a diagram depicting all the different project stakeholders and the links and reporting lines between them using a Project Organization Chart.

3. Project implementation.

You should now be in a position to describe the implementation. This must include the implementation plan, milestones, any key dependencies and a resource plan.

The implementation plan will include all the phases, steps and activities of the project and can be created in an Implementation Plan. This may provide the Stakeholders with confidence that the project has been thought through thoroughly.

Now you should be able to create a detailed resource plan for the project, which must include all resources, including people, finances, equipment and materials.

4. Risks and Issues.

As a final step in the project charter you must also document the risks and issues that are know at that specific time of the project. You can also include any constraints and assumptions for the project.

And there you have your project charter. The benefit from creating a project charter is that it will help you manage the scope and ensure that you deliver consistently on time and within budget.

What Is The Role Of A Project Manager?

Do you as a project manager know exactly what your role is on a project? Is it currently the role of a project administrator?

The role of a project manager is to deliver a project on time, within budget and to the agreed specifications.

This implies that as a project manager you need to upfront specify exactly what will be delivered and then document this along with a work schedule and budget.

But this is not all that a project manager needs to take care of. There are a few other very important skills a project manager requires to ensure he or she succeeds as a highly qualified project manager.

These different roles are; finding the right resources, leading and motivating them throughout the project, managing the budget, managing scope changes on the project and maybe most important is continuously communicate the state of the project to all stakeholders.

Finding the best resources to work on your projects is very important. Successful projects are delivered by highly skilled teams and as such it is the role of the project manager to put together the best team of skilled people that complement each other perfectly. The best way to achieve this is to document a detailed Job Description for each role player on the team. This will not only ensure you engage the most appropriate team members, but will also give everyone in the team a clear understanding of what is expected of them right though the whole project.

Once a team has been created, another role the project manager has to play is to lead and motivate the team continuously. You are the one responsible for ensuring that every task is completed successfully and on time, and as such needs to be the one that is going to have to be strict in ensuring that every task is completed one time, with the highest quality and within budget.

Apart from being strict, you will also have to be able to lead the team and give proper direction where necessary. Motivating the team during tough times is also very important. To lead the team and ensure that they work hard, the project manager must lead by example and as such work even harder than the rest of the team.

Every project must have a clearly defined budget. It is the project manager's responsibility to ensure that spending on the project stays within the budget. This could be achieved by creating a proper project budget listing every expense in detail and make sure that each of these items are budgeted for. If any unbudgeted items do come along, ensure that these are communicated well in advance and are then included in the budget. Remember to never be afraid to ask for more budget, if that is what the project requires, but be able to clearly justify such a request.

Another issue that can sink a project very quickly is when scope changes or scope creep, as it is referred to more often, is not managed correctly. The scope of the project must be defined upfront, agreed to by all stakeholders and formally signed off. Any new changes or requirements that are asked for must then be documented via the proper change process and discussed and prioritized at the appropriate meetings.

Remember than more often than not, such scope changes will lead to further financial requirements and must be included in the budget.

Finally, another role the project manager must be able to execute perfectly is that of communication of the project during the whole life cycle of the project to all stakeholders. Ensure that a communication plan is documented and signed off up front and stick to this communication plan. If all stakeholders at all levels know that the project is on track or that appropriate measures are put in place to bring the project back in line, it will motivate everyone on the project.

Project status must be communicated to all stakeholders, the team, the project owner and project sponsor and customer minimum every week. Ensure that this is communicated in a formalized, documented way every week at the same time and never, never, never miss a week. Ensure that you communicate the right messages to the right people at the right time.

Easing the Pain of Implement Project Management Standards

Are you running projects haphazardly without any formal standards? Have you previously tried to implement project standards, but have failed dismally? Then you are not alone, this happens to every project manager, but if you take the medication prescribed below, I am sure your pain will go away very quickly.

Project standards are a set of rules and best practices in guiding you to undertake projects successfully. There are two very popular standards, amongst others, which have been adopted all over the world and depending on where you come from and the culture of your organization; it will decide which one will be best for you. If you are an American based organization or have an American culture, then PMI would be best suited to your needs. Prince2 again is more aligned to English-based organizations and cultures.

However, once you have decided one which one to use, implementing the standard using a few of the tips below, will surely take away most of the pains you may experience in this environment.

First start by reviewing your existing project terminology along with your selected standard as guidance and then document and communicate the project terminology to everyone that is a stakeholder in projects in your organization. Also, re-affirm this glossary of terms every time you undertake any project management training, so as to ensure that these terms are understood and adopted.

Next you have to implement your Project Life Cycle. This will be a series of steps to be undertaken to implement any project from start to finish. Ensure that all new projects are using this life cycle, but do not try to rework existing projects using the new life cycle, as this will just create extra confusion and hardship.

Within every project standards there are guidelines and principles that are recommended to be followed, but which are not prescribed as the alpha and omega. Review these and adopt and customize to fit your organization, project and project team. Once you have done this, communicate this to all stakeholders on your projects, to ensure everyone understands and is aware of the customized standards and guidelines. Never adopt a standard in its entirety, unless you are 100% sure that it will be a perfect fit for your organization. Rather review the guidelines and make the necessary changes to suite your organization and culture.

Now that you have successfully selected and implemented your project standards, you need to ensure that it is followed by each and everyone, every time a project is done.

Reviewing your projects on an ongoing basis will help to ensure that the terminology, project life cycle and guidelines and standards are followed consistently, so that your projects have the maximum change of being successful every time.