Why Elkera is the right expert to help plan your software project

By Peter Meyer, Principal Consultant, Elkera Pty Limited

Making the business case for engaging an expert to plan your software project

The four related topics have assessed the risks involved in planning projects with a particular focus on projects for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) where there is a temptation to rely on unskilled, in-house personnel for project planning. The conclusions from those topics are:

  • Software projects are high risk undertakings for any organisation. There is a very high failure rate with only around 30% of software projects rated as successful. Business managers should be alarmed at that figure.
  • Business software is not a normal product. Business software is part of a system in which software and business processes with staff and customers must be aligned.
  • Planning a software project to achieve the necessary alignment of software with the business requires considerable expertise to navigate the many risks involved and to setup the project for success.
  • For a variety of reasons, many SMEs try to use unskilled, in-house personnel to plan their software projects.
  • It is not realistic to expect unskilled personnel to navigate all the risks and achieve a positive outcome. Using unskilled personnel to plan a software project is one of the biggest risks to your project. It greatly increases the risk that the project will under-perform against its expectations or even fail completely. It is unlikely that the project will deliver its maximum potential return on investment.
  • SMEs need a strategy to help them establish the business case for the overall project and for engaging an expert consultant.
  • An incremental planning approach with a preliminary planning assessment provides a low-cost and low-risk way for SMEs to establish the foundations of their project and also to test whether they have found the right expert for their needs.

The preliminary planning assessment

The first step in building a business case is to do a preliminary planning assessment that will:

  • Assess if you have a problem that should be solved by new software system. Often this is pretty clear but not always. It is sometimes the case that the business needs to make other changes, either before or instead of acquiring new software.
  • Assess the scope of the project that is needed to solve the identified problems.
  • Assess the scale of benefits expected from the project. This requires that the business establish clear, measurable objectives for the project.
  • Assess expectations about the likely nature of a solution. Is it expected to be off-the-shelf (including cloud based), customised off-the-shelf or bespoke?
  • Based on the preceding assessments, assess the steps that should be followed to achieve a successful result. This step should provide an indication of the scale and nature of the planning work, and an early assessment of risks.
  • Enable the business to assess if it has found a consultant who can really help to make the project a success at a reasonable cost.
  • Enable the consultant to provide a proposal to undertake the planning work with the business. That proposal should include an assessment of the benefits that the consultant can provide, compared to, say, in-house planning.

Whatever the outcome of your preliminary planning assessment, you should obtain valuable information that will inform further decision making. It is a low risk, high benefits approach.

Elkera’s planning process

Elkera applies an agile, incremental planning process that is designed to reduce risks for both parties and provide certainty for each stage of the planning work.

The first major step in Elkera’s approach is to conduct the preliminary planning assessment described earlier.

Elkera’s planning process for medium to large projects is described in the following diagram:

Elkera’s software planning process, with Introduction and 4 main stages, each describing purpose, duration and deliverables.

The benefits of Elkera’s expert planning services

Your investment in planning with Elkera will enable you to greatly reduce project risks, maximise return on investment and satisfy your system users.

The following diagram may help visualise the difference in likely outcomes between expert and non-expert planning:

[Investment-ROI compare – web.jpg]

Persuading your management

Elkera offers a resource pack to help build the case within your organisation.

Download now: A Pitch to Management to Engage an Expert Planning Consultant.

Ready to get started?

To help get started, Elkera offers two free consultations:

  • A free 30-minute consultation during which both parties can gain an understanding of the other.
  • A free 2-hour consultation with your project team to review the project in a little more detail. In this step, the objective is to enable Elkera to provide a formal proposal to conduct a preliminary planning assessment, should you ask Elkera to do so.