This post was authored by John Clemons, director of manufacturing IT at MAVERICK Technologies, a Rockwell Automation company. To read Part 2 of this series, click here.

I’d like to change gears a little and talk some more about successful and unsuccessful manufacturing IT projects. There’s lots of factors that can derail a manufacturing IT project and simply being aware of them can go a long way to helping you avoid them.

So, here’s what I call the Top 10 pitfalls for manufacturing IT projects.

  1. Project requirements were disconnected from, or not driven by, the business. Requirements for any project must be driven by the business and must have a clear business case and business benefits.
  2. Did not sufficiently involve end-user community in design and implementation process. The people that are actually going to use the system need to be heavily involved with the design to ensure that the solution meets their needs and is simple and easy to use.
  3. Misunderstood the functional requirements that were poorly documented. There’s lot of different ways to document the functional requirements but to have a successful project you have to document the requirements and review them with the business team.
  4. Missed the budget because project plan was not developed accurately. Most people just guess at the budgets and rarely put together a thorough project plan. A detailed project plan that is updated throughout the project is essential for achieving the project budget.
  5. Misjudged the time required. It really will probably cost more and take longer than you want or expect. Use realistic information from past projects to judge the time required making sure that you include all the different steps in the project.
  6. Over ran the budget and/or schedule because project was not managed to control scope creep. Scope creep happens all the time and has to be managed. If you want to increase the scope just make sure you increase the budget and schedule to match.
  7. Lost sight of actual business requirements because they changed, or the business environment changed during the course of the project. The business environment changes very quickly – sometimes quicker than you can get the project done. Make sure the project is adaptable to changes business requirements and changing business environments.
  8. Followed conventional wisdom to the exclusion of common sense. Common sense isn’t so common, but if something just doesn’t feel right it’s probably not. Don’t following conventional wisdom when you know something’s not right.
  9. Allowed dominant personalities on the project team, or in end-user community, to hijack project and divert it from stated goals. Dominant personalities are great for driving a project forward but can also hijack projects and get them off course. Stay true to the business requirements and drive toward the project’s goals.
  10. Allowed vendor, integrator, or consultant to sell what they have to sell instead of what client actually needed. This happens all the time. The vendor or integrator or consultant sells you what they have to sell instead of what’s best for you and what’s best for the business.

This is what I call the Top 10 pitfalls for manufacturing IT projects. Avoiding these pitfalls can go a long way to help make your project successful.

But there’s no magic to avoiding them. You simply have to be aware of them, watch out closely for them, and don’t let your guard down no matter what.

To read Part 2 of this series, click here.

About the Author
John Clemons is MAVERICK’s director of manufacturing IT with extensive education and experience in technology engineering, product/service innovation, project management and consulting services for world-class manufacturing enterprises. John has experience in the food, beverage and consumer packaged goods (CPG) sectors; the oil, natural gas and alternative energy sectors and the chemical and petrochemical sectors. He is a champion of lean manufacturing, operational performance excellence, total quality and other paradigms that optimize productivity, efficiency and profitability. A frequent industry speaker, writer and co-author of Information Technology for Manufacturing: Reducing Costs and Expanding Capabilities.

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