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Topics: Scheduling, Stakeholder Management
Realistic time for billing system replacement project
Network:26



Situation: Gas company, 400k customers, B2B and B2C. Going for application to replace current billing system which is 20 years old.
Analysis phase just started, Key sponsor wants to complete the project within a year and Supplier is ready to propose implementation time 1 year.
My personal experience - only B2B probably yes within year, but full scale project to include also B2C will take at least 2 years. In scope also development of customer.

Your experience regarding timescale for billing system replacement projects?
Any suggestion how to deal with Key Sponsor?
One of option I'm thinking of is to refuse continue manage the project?
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Network:867



Aivis -

I can't comment on the proposed & desired durations relative to the scope but would suggest:

1. Confirming the relative priority of the project's constraints - is scope most important, or time or cost?

2. Try to locate evidence from similar historical projects which shows that the desired duration is unrealistic. Better yet, if you can find an estimation database which contains these types of projects, let the probability distribution coming out of it for the profile of this project act as ammunition.

3. Present options, not ultimatums - what could be done for within a year?

Kiron
Network:436



All suggestions from Kiron are great from a very high level and exactly what I would think about.

Okay , first off the bat, you could request your sponsor to give you two weeks at the very least to perform a high level analysis of what you are dealing with.

You will use this time to work out how this time frame (one year or two ) is unrealistic to achieve .

I think you would be best served by explaining the complexity of what you are dealing with
and try and put some time frames to break down the work required:-

1) You have current baggage - Legacy System. As you have lined out , the Analysis has just started . But the scope of your analysis would typically contain :-

Infrastructure may be dying . How long can you keep it alive? Does the current Support agreement with the legacy solution vendor suffice? Do you need to pay extra $$$ to keep the old system breathing? For How Long?
How does the new solution fit into your current Enterprise Architecture Framework?
Your analysis requires a Business Analyst and An Architect at the very least to work together. Do you have them on-board? What do they think is a realistic time-frame for the Analysis and Solution piece?
Data Migration Requirements/Strategies . Do you key in the data from scratch in the new system ? Or do you migrate? what are the time-frames around this?
You need to map the current state and the future state
You need to determine if any interfaces required for the new Application or it green-fields development
Data formats/current and future ?
Regulatory requirements to maintain old data?
Decommission planning?
Transition Planning?
Implementation Planning?
Training needs?

Every solution is different . You may have migrated from "x" technology in the past and at best an analogous estimation may give you ball park estimate of time and cost , but this beast is probably different.

Your supplier may probably quote from a similar experience but unless the scope is laid down , you are likely to get surprises down the track.

I would advise that you present all these complexities and a time frame/Schedule for the Analysis piece and suggest breaking down the project into Analysis and Development Phase .

Do not engage the vendor formally with a Statement of Work , until you have completely worked out what you are doing - A detailed Scoping exercise.

Once you have presented the facts , leave it up-to the sponsor to decide on how they wish to proceed. Let them make the decision on whether you should continue or they need to select another Animal to be sacrificed at the Altar.
Network:436



And the suggestion is to take up the challenge and present the facts , not to back off from it. You need to suggest the pace at which you will run the project , if your sponsor lets you run it off course .
Network:12110



You already have a sponsor that wants it done in 1 year right? So present something whereby that can be achieved, even if it means 1 million resources (if that is what it takes). Then the sponsor will make a call on if that 1 year constraint is strict, or if they can push the time out to your estimated two years based on less resources etc. There's no point saying it will take 2 years and then giving up. Could you double the resources and get it done in 1 year?
Network:410



Hi Aivis-

I agree 1 year is too less and very risky if it is a big bang rollout. But dont refuse to handle as it would look bad on you as a project manager. As a PM you should be able to negotiate and convince the sponsor and other stakeholders. My suggestion.

1. My suggestion is to go with a phased approach where by you identify critical business units in the company and plan their migration to new system within this year. Say identify the units which generate more than 60-70% of revenue for the company and migrate to them within this year. This way you can bring down the volume of master data and transactions and bring down the complexity

2. Tell the sponsor that you will start the work of migration immediately after go-live and bring them to the new system at the earliest

3. This would mean that you have to run two systems in parallel for some time, but this is how most organizations do. And you might need to do some additional integration between the new system and the old for financial consolidation

4. Most important thing - Remember you are replacing a billing system, and if you go big bang and do a sloppy implementation, you would end up loosing lot of revenue if the system doesnt work and lot of money spent on implementation
Network:1590



If you want to know the realistic time and cost do this: after making the estimations go for Barry Bohem´s Cone of Uncertainty and use it to adjust your estimations. The results you will get are the realistics results.
Network:26



Thanks for comments and suggestions. I’m very positively surprised by support from community. Yesterday I was very emotional, today I calm down and can evaluate situation more realistic.
The first thing is to collect historical information from similar projects, I will also spend time and prepare the options what we can achieve within a year.
From my point of view this is standard situation in IT industry - in order to get contract supplier is ready to overpromise. But I do not want to start project with unrealistic timeframes.
Regarding project resources – experience from my past project shows that if Supplier spend 5000 man/days on the project then Customer also should be ready to allocate similar amount of resources (IT + business experts).
Is this this similar in your projects?
...
1 reply by Sante Vergini
Dec 12, 2017 6:55 AM
Sante Vergini
...
Projects can be en emotional thing Aivis, and that is understandable. They are like our children that we create, nurture, teach, mentor, train, and ultimately let go, while being permanently effected by their presence in our lives.
Network:12110



Dec 12, 2017 6:24 AM
Replying to Aivis Rozenfelds
...
Thanks for comments and suggestions. I’m very positively surprised by support from community. Yesterday I was very emotional, today I calm down and can evaluate situation more realistic.
The first thing is to collect historical information from similar projects, I will also spend time and prepare the options what we can achieve within a year.
From my point of view this is standard situation in IT industry - in order to get contract supplier is ready to overpromise. But I do not want to start project with unrealistic timeframes.
Regarding project resources – experience from my past project shows that if Supplier spend 5000 man/days on the project then Customer also should be ready to allocate similar amount of resources (IT + business experts).
Is this this similar in your projects?
Projects can be en emotional thing Aivis, and that is understandable. They are like our children that we create, nurture, teach, mentor, train, and ultimately let go, while being permanently effected by their presence in our lives.
Network:99228



Aivis,

Have a look at the Cone of Uncertainty, mention by Sergio.
Get confirmation from vendor clients of real time vs time announce at early stage.

Vendor are vendor! What do you want the ear? one year!
Network:26



Hi,

I want thank you again for calming me down and provide feedback, how it worked out.
Generally, this was an issue of right communication.
We agreed to request for product manufacturer reference visit for company similar to ours which has implemented system.
We agreed that I together Supplier develop joint high level implementation plan by mid of Feb. In discussion Cone of Uncertainty principle also helped

Wishing you a very Many Christmas and Happy New Year!

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