Consider this scenario: the work on the pilot phase of your company's enterprise data management (EDM) project is complete, and you are almost ready to roll it out to its hungry audience. Now would not be the time to find out that there is no assessment methodology or plan in place to assess whether the pilot phase is on the right track. Nobody would do that, right?

Well, yes they would. You'd be amazed at how many people tell me that, while their companies have overall project assessment methodologies, they don't have an assessment plan in place for the pilot phase. I find this startling because the pilot phase is where a comprehensive assessment would really make a difference. In the pilot phase, there is still time to discover any problems and fix them before work begins on the enterprise portion of the EDM project.

This month, I will discuss three critical areas to look at when evaluating your pilot EDM project, some issues you might run into and how to deal with those issues in order to keep the project on course.

Governance and Stewardship

By the time you finish the pilot phase of your EDM project, your data governance organization (DGO) and stewardship model should be largely in place. The membership, organization chart and charter may need to be tweaked based on experience and issues encountered during the pilot, but the overall structure should be functional.

One common issue that companies encounter is political conflict - especially in regard to reporting and responsibility structures in the DGO. If the conflict arises among equals - particularly high-ranking equals - the trick is to task your project's executive committee with solving these executive-level conflicts. You need more than just the executive committee as a whole, however. Utilize committee members who are respected by all parties involved to break any deadlocks and engender consensus about how to move forward.

If the conflict is between involved parties with different titles/responsibility levels, it's often easier to solve. Clarify the responsibilities and reporting lines that have been established and stick to that structure unless there is a compelling reason to change. If changes are necessary, it is imperative to fully explain and gain as much consensus as possible on the changes before you implement them.

Data Quality

Often, work on the pilot phase reveals unanticipated data quality problems. The first step to assessing the pilot in terms of data quality is to determine if the problem is inherent only to the data sets in the pilot phase or whether the issue could be more widespread.

For example, assume that your pilot consists of an initiative to standardize customer master data in a particular business line or division. If the data quality is poor across this business line or division, chances are, it is poor across the company. This is a red alert that the team will almost surely have to do more work than was originally planned, and that timelines and resource levels for the enterprise portion of the project may need to be revised. However, it is better to find problems in the pilot phase and be able to make revisions to the project plan rather than try to rejigger the project plan in the midst of an enterprise-wide data management project!

Budget and Scope

Money is probably the most-monitored aspect of any IT project. Still, budget overruns are not uncommon, no matter how well the project is managed. Additionally, in the rush of getting the pilot rolled out, it is tempting to gloss over budget overruns and promise to "tighten the belt" as the project goes forward to conserve funding. That is probably not the best idea.

Instead, if the project is over budget at the completion of the pilot phase, examine each area/task where budget overruns exist, find out why and correct those issues as quickly as possible before moving on with the enterprise phase so the problems do not magnify along with the project.

If the issue is with the project's scope (for instance, work done that was clearly out of the pilot phase project scope), it is essential to stop this scope creep immediately. A good way to stop scope creep is to clearly communicate the scope for the rest of the phases and stick to the project plan if at all possible. Be firm! That way the scope of succeeding phases will not snowball as well.

These three areas are certainly not the only ones that should receive strict scrutiny as the pilot phase of the EDM is being readied for rollout. However, these are three critical areas where most of the problems I have encountered have been found. If you are on time, on track and on budget in these three areas, you have a really good chance of success, not only with the pilot, but with the enterprise portion of the project as well. Good luck! 

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte Consulting LLP is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, financial, investment or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. Deloitte Consulting LLP, its affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication. 

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