How do software projects get started anyway? Someone went to a conference. A department manager wants to “streamline workflow.” A sales VP says his team is wasting time with old and slow systems. A “transformational” project is launched. A new plant or warehouse is being planned. Customers start asking for things your company cannot do with existing systems.

In each case a person or group of people claims that, with a new system, all kinds of benefits are possible. But anyone can create a list of benefits; with some creativity you can build an attractive ROI for anything.

How can you tell your project might have to be stopped before it fails?

  • Having spent weeks evaluating software demos by different providers, your VP of Sales and her team is convinced the company should purchase and implement vendor B’s solution.
  • The technology demos well and looks cool, but the ROI is unclear and seems contrived.
  • No one has documented a thorough summary of how a new system will be used to run your business.
  • Even though the vendor has quoted implementation, license, and maintenance costs, other costs like integration with existing systems are unknown.
  • No one in your enterprise is familiar with the vendor’s products or reputation.
  • It’s not clear what kind of internal team you will need, and how you will free up those people for the project.
  • There are many parts of the solution that will have to be custom-developed (invented).

There is always a possibility out there, imagined by someone or everyone, that a particular technology investment could produce different processes, eliminate waste, inspire minds, please customers.  But a sober clear-eyed assessment is what is needed before grand project aspirations can begin.