Beware of small timeline estimates

Beware of small timeline estimates

Another case of events in my personal life making me think of useful lessons in my professional life.

While helping my son do his homework, some editing needed to be done.  Not wordsmithing, but actual editing of video they had taken (budding actors everywhere this day).  Luckily one of the children that came to do the presentation had his two brothers with him.  One of them a freshman in High school and, fortunately for them, very experienced in video editing. 

It made me realize that I had little to offer them in this project, outside of helping them create content (gather requirements). Requirements gathering in the video process lead my thoughts to requirements gathering in my professional, software, world.  This is something I have done a lot, both when choosing an application but more over as part of the implementation process.

Often I talk to customers, at various later stages of a project, and they discuss their original process for gathering requirements and selecting software. Some have done it often, some not at all.

Why do people fail at selecting software, and did they really fail at the selection of the software, or more the implementation and scoping?  There is something that customers can not control, it is that often vendors will discount the time it really takes to fully implement all the bells and whistles you saw in the demo.  Keen to get a sale, in a very competitive market they, describe aspirational timescales for implementations.

I’ve been doing software implementations, in the commissions management space, for more than 15 years and have never seen a happy customer with an automated system, implemented in 4 weeks. I have seen 6-week implementations with scaled down functionality and reports that you will undeniably not be happy with. 

So, are there any rules of thumb, which can be used to test these suggested time scales?

On the plan side, in my humble opinion, most plans take 2 weeks at minimum to implement, depending on the level of complexity and amount of components.  Very simply, the more stuff the longer it takes.

On the data side, you should be ready to have at least 1 to two automated feeds.  This stuff will at minimum take 4 to 6 weeks and on the smaller company side is almost always pushed to you by the vendor.  You best be ready to figure it out (Transaction and payee feed).

Then lets talk about reports and workflow.  You can use what is out of the box, but you won’t be happy. Figure you will want a comp summary, comp detail report.  This should take 2 – 4 weeks based on the application and how many levels you need to traverse.

Yes, I have just grossly generalized a timeline, but anyone telling you that 10 plans 3 components that are unique can be done in 4 weeks, is not going to make you a happy customer.

  • On May 5, 2016

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