Get Rid of the Lengthy COTS Feasibility Study
Feasibility studies permit planners to outline their ideas on paper before implementing them. This can reveal errors in project design before their implementation negatively affects the project. Applying the lessons gained from a feasibility study can significantly lower the project risks. In my view feasibility studies should never be longer than four months, no matter how big your project is let me explain:
The Feasibility study is not a sales pitch, way too often we focus on the COTS (Commercial off the Shelf ) product, In my view, this is a fundamental mistake all these products work and are already integrated (PeopleSoft, Oracle EBS, Fusion, JDE, SAP, Siebel) it does not make sense any longer with the vast information out they’re to be completing Feasibility studies with full system analysis like Oracle or SAP that last longer than four months.
Why? I have yet to hear in my career that Oracle or SAP cannot perform a certain business function if not vanilla or with a RICE (Report-Interface-Conversion-Extension). Especially know that everyone has adopted a SOA more Open-based Architecture.
Below is an email I received by an individual that gave me approval to print this email onto this article, he shares his experience about their feasibility study:
Sent: March 4, 2013 7:41 PM
To: Alex Antonatos [mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: RE: Oracle Fusion vs. PSFT
Great read on your Fusion article, just to let you know we just performed a 10 Month feasibility study on PeopleSoft or Fusion and we came up with the similar conclusions as per your article.
The only thing that bothers me, we could of donated that money to a worthy cause. I think we spent almost a million dollars if you tally up the employees like myself hourly rate and some consultants that were with us.
I have been in the IT field for 25 years, and the end game is always the same; consultants come in, make the money and leave after 3-6 months to the next project and the employees get the s**t for why we spent so much money, and the employees are stuck to show the value add of the 10 month feasibility project.
On a side note, I really enjoy your blog and thank you for the whitepapers.
In the case above, we all sense some passion and frustration, I don’t blame him they spent over $1 million dollars to go ahead to say that PeopleSoft 9 or Fusion can integrate to the current landscape of systems. Same answer as Day One. They’re study presented risks and returns associated with the project so the prospective managers can evaluate them. Again in their case they also believed their Finance and HRMS systems where so different compared to the norm and fell into a sales pitch of functionalities.
Here are some more examples of long feasibility studies that went the wrong direction:
- ERP implementation, business functions, the inability of Hershey to ship candies for Halloween (The feasibility study was 10 months)
- ERP implementation: Nike Losing major shoe orders (The feasibility study was 9 months)
- Foxmeyers failure to process financial information and orders (The feasibility study was 11 months)
- BSkyB (BSY) got a 318 million-pound settlement in 2010 for a COTS system that did not work (The feasibility study was 13 months)
- UK Government scraps a 12 billion National Program to provide integrated electronic records (15 month Feasibility)
- State of California spent $300 million dollars in implementing a COTS software (12 month feasibility study)
Here are some practical tips and guidelines:
Use social media. An example when I wrote the article about Fusion and asked people to share their go-live experiences I received 87 emails in 72 hours. These answers helped me understand quickly the different strengths and weaknesses of the product.
In my view, The acceptable level for any business feasibility of a COTS package should not be more than four months, but the appropriate risk rate will vary for each individual depending on their personal work situation. Less experience teams usually require more time to complete a COTS Feasibility study.
No SALES Pitch, focus on the integration, economic viability and operational zing of the project.
Don’t expect perfection in a feasibility study, this is the main reason it should be short and done quickly.
Bottom lines there are dozens of reasons why a feasibility study can’t be done in a shorter timeframe, but perhaps only one why it can. It’s up to you to decide whether you are going to search for a way to do it, or regularly settle for a handy excuse. Some companies fall into the trap and use the feasibility study more like a sales pitch. Don’t do it!
I am a big fan of the feasibility study but it should be a quick study and low cost exercise to determine if your COTS project makes sense to adopt it within your organization.
I would love to hear about your experiences and thoughts with your ERP, CRM, SAAS Feasibility studies.
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