Planning for a Successful VMS Implementation
Your company has chosen a Vendor Management System (VMS) and you’re anxious to get started on implementation …but STOP! An implementation project’s success begins with a well-organized and thought-out plan prior to kick off.
As Winston Churchill stated, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”
Most of us have experienced the impact that poor planning can have: increased timelines, budgets, missed expectations and other frustrations that leave you scratching your head and asking, “What went wrong?” and ”How did we get here?”
It’s essential that you consider the following while planning for a successful VMS implementation:
Without a scope, your project is guaranteed to go off course. Valuable time and money are wasted if project teams are unclear as to what they should be implementing and why. A well-written and mutually agreed upon scope identifies the goals, business reasons, expected benefits and timeline for the project.
It’s important that you assist in managing stakeholder expectations by identifying key assumptions and requirements that the project team will execute. This will allow for the project team to monitor and track activities to ensure the agreed upon business needs are being met. Also be aware of potential “project creep” during implementation where unexpected events can impact your team’s budget and resources.
Project Sponsor and Governance
Project sponsorship is one of the most overlooked, but also one of the most valuable roles on any implementation project. The project sponsor has the ability to right the ship if the plan starts going off course. Without their leadership, teams who are at an impasse over strategic decisions and direction lose valuable time trying to maneuver the political waters.
Project sponsors can dedicate time to garner support from stakeholders and executives to ensure project expectations are being met. If there are any roadblocks that may impact the scope, timeline and resources during the lifecycle of the project, a project sponsor has the ability to ensure those obstacles are removed.
Prior to engaging your VMS provider, one last step is hold an internal kick off. This will provide a great opportunity to share the vision of the project, introduce the internal team and promote collaboration among subject matter experts. This internal communication can help answer any questions and concerns about roles, responsibilities and time commitment.
Here are some key questions to ask:
- Are the subject matter experts qualified?
- Are they aware of the project and its benefits?
- Is additional communication and education about the program required?
- Are there other internal competing projects that project team members are assigned to?
It’s important to review and mutually agree upon a RASCI (Responsible, Accountable, Support, Consult, and Informed) model that identifies roles and responsibilities for each project team member. Establishing clear expectations during planning will mitigate misunderstandings at a later date, which can impact project deliverables.
By following these guidelines, you can be fully prepared to successfully implement a VMS in your enterprise. There will always be challenges during the implementation process, but creating a well thought out roadmap in advance you can easily overcome any roadblocks.