In your corporate life, there is nothing worse than a project that dies. Well many worse is the slow death of a project that never had a chance. I hate to write, but I have been part of those slow death projects where on two occasions the project leader lost their job.
I had a mentor tell me that if there is hope in the present there is power in the future, that’s a good thing for a project. However, in order to fuel that hope you need strategy. If we look at the six ways project die, my hope is you can stay away from them and not repeat the same mistakes. Keep in mind that the six are in order of importance from the least (1) to the most (6).
- Lack of money – Money is always the least reason a project will die. If a company doesn’t have financial resources to support an accounts payable automation project, they are probably days away from going under. Now, it’s true that money is blamed for a lot of failures, but it just used as an excuse.
- Poor scope – Professional project managers pride themselves on believing that if the scope is done well than the project will be successful. This path to a dying AP Automation project has a double edge. If there is too much emphasis on project management and if the scope is built on bad information (poor scope) the project will die and the project manager will go down with the ship.
- Weak sponsor – The sponsor I am referring to is on the executive level. In my early days of AP Automation projects, this was the one that got me the most. It wasn’t until I made sure that all levels of the business, especially the “C” levels and board knew what we were doing and why (see point 6) did the death of projects stop.
- No advocate – Similar to the sponsor, an advocate is a person that has the IQ and the people skills (EQ) to help the company cope with the change that AP Automation brings. I have written a lot about the role of the advocate. It is a person or group of people that make sure the rest of the company is attached to the reason (why) for the change. Advocates are great to “right the ship” when is starts to go off course.
- Lacking skill – I could explain lack of skills with the company that is automating, but really the lack of skill that I am referring to is the service provider that is selling the automation software. A project is only as successful as the service provider’s support. There is no substitute for good old fashion experience, and you have to vet this as you are figuring out which service provider to go with.
- No “Why” – This is my new thing. From the time (last summer) someone taught me this, it has really been an eye opener. There are three levels of a project. (1) What (2) How (3) Why. The “What” is easy, “to implement AP Automation”. The “How” is material, meaning that it’s the tangible aspects of the project; data migration, integrations, testing… The “Why” is the point or the purpose. With my projects the “Why” was always based on the time that is being freed up. If there is no “Why” or the “Why” is loosely defined the death is inevitable, and these are the projects that take those nice long slow expensive deaths.
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About The Author:
Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information