The Open Issues List in Software Implementations

the open issues listThe Open Issues List. Ah…yes….  The effervescent, ever evolving open issues list. Do you have one? I know I do. Does it ever go away?Are you ever truly free from your open issues list?

By the way, by their nature, “Open Issues” are one of those things that lend themselves to being put in “quotes”.

So you’ve implemented some ERP or CRM software. It’s gone “okay”. It’s “mostly” working. You’re using lots of “quotes” when you describe the status of the implementation. This usually means that you have “open issues”. In my experience, “open issues” fall into one of four categories:

  1. Stuff that was part of the initial implementation that is not done yet.
  2. Stuff that you “think” should have been part of the initial implementation, but for whatever reason is not done yet.
  3. Stuff that you thought of mid-implementation that you now know needs to be done in order for the implementation to be a success.
  4. Other stuff that you’d like to see done, but isn’t necessarily critical to success, but you’d sure like to see it done to feel good about things.

What do we do now?

You’ve got all this “stuff” that isn’t done. Different stakeholders in the implementation have different feelings about the implementation. Some people think if you “just” completed A, B, and C…the implementation would be a success. Other stakeholders think if you “just” completed C, D, and E…the implementation would be a success. Who’s right? How do we make everyone feel good about this? Is it even possible to make everyone feel good about this?

Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Here’s the thing – “success” is a very subjective concept.  “Success” to the CEO is one thing. To the Warehouse Manager, it’s something else. To the VP of Sales, completely different. And, don’t get me started about what the Director of Marketing wants. We’ve got A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, etc. to get done. How do we know what to do for who and when?

If we are to have a successful implementation of any kind of software, there needs to be ONE person in the company (your company) that is responsible for the implementation. ONE person.    ONE person that can work with the CEO, the VP of Sales, the Warehouse Manager, the Director of Marketing, the Customer Service Manager, the Controller, the CFO, and the Receptionist to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on. ONE person who manages the “Open Issues” List.

One person who prioritizes the list. One person who helps determine what needs to happen, in what order, and when. One person who decides if an “open issue” is now a “closed issue”.

When we talk about the keys to success in a CRM or ERP implementation, we usually talk about a lot of things, and we’ve written a number of blogs on this topic. However, it may be that the most important key is to have ONE point person in charge of the implementation so that the “open issues” are managed appropriately. Your outside consultant cannot manage your open issues.   Your implementation partner cannot manage your open issues.   It needs to be someone on the company team that assumes responsibility.

If you want your “open issues” to go away, the first step is appointing ONE person in your organization to be responsible. Until then, while some of your “open issues” will become “closed issues”, you’ll never be truly free.