By Mike Arnoldy
January 10th, 2011
When a company begins looking at a Hyperion Financial Management implementation, one of the first questions they ask is how long it will take. Well, I don’t have a crystal ball that will tell me how long there implementation will take, but I can give them some insight into what I have seen during numerous implementations.
I have had projects that taken only three months from design to go live. I have also had projects flounder for a year and not go live. Most projects fall somewhere between these extremes.
So why is one project quick and successful and another one never-ending? There are numerous variables that go into the equation.
Commitment – Successful projects have this, and I mean really have it. Everyone says they are committed to the project. They will make the resources available when needed. But then, monthly and quarter closes impact the schedule. Other corporate initiatives impact the schedule and the next thing you have is delays. For example, I have had projects where the project team can only work on the project for one or two weeks a month. Without resources, the project does not get done. Often, the projects that I have done in three months were the result of a merger. The company had no alternative to report their earnings if they did not complete the project by a certain date. In these cases I had real commitment. I had a dedicated project team working in a war room the entire time. The team members didn’t have a cubicle outside of the war room during the project. Completing the project on time was literally their sole focus and only task.
Scope– Successful projects always have a tightly defined scope that is strictly adhered to during the project. These scopes are absolutely not without flexibility though. To accommodate things that come up during a project while adhering to the scope, the overriding question related to everything in scope is “Do we need this to go live?” is continually asked. If we do not need it, it is deferred. Utilizing this approach will often lead to a Phase 2 and Phase 3 following Go Live. These additional phases are where the items not necessary for Go Live, but are nice to have items, get accommodated. This best part about this approach is that it creates a sense of accomplishment and a point where the team can celebrate after each phase is complete.
Data Validation – Data validation is the single worst task in an implementation—in other words, one big minefield. The effort required is always underestimated in that many companies have grand ideas about how many years of history they want to load without considering the effort to validate it. For example, at an Enterprise implementation, the client thought they would load five or six years of history. After we started and the reality of the time to validate that data came to light, it didn’t happen. A few years later, I implemented Financial Management. When I asked the question, “How much historical data do you want to load, they replied, “Last year only.” They’d learned their lesson. In sum, to do your reporting, you need this year and last year for comparisons. These two years should be the only historical data you should plan on loading. Period.
Adding to the above, there are really two things that impact how difficult the data validation will be:
- 1. Your current consolidation system—if it is Excel, we will find every single error in your spreadsheets. And there will be errors. Generally, the validation is easier if Enterprise is your current consolidation tool.
- 2. How much is changing in the application as it migrates to Financial Management. This is where the complexity comes in. If the level of detail is changing or the hierarchies are changing significantly, it is more difficult to find common points that should tie together. Examples are I loading data in local currency during the implementation, or changing the intercompany process. Both of these add complexity and time to the validation effort.
So how long will your Financial Management implementation take? I can’t give you a definite answer, but I can give you some things to think about as you begin to plan the project that will impact how long and how successful that project will be.