EPICOR® Kinetic or QAD ERP
Side by Side
Lean Waterfall vs Agile
Upgrading highly customized ERP software over 20 years old.Large multi-national make to order manufacturing companies.Vantage 8.03 to EPICOR 10.2 & QAD EB to EE
That’s where the similarities end.
One project was completed in under a year, within budget, using a few customer personnel and a Pronto Progress squad of 3 using Lean Waterfall Project Methodology.
Four years running the other project still uses Agile Methodology. Over 100 personnel sprint away, including the largest offshore "consultancy". Attrition is high.
What is lean without a plan?
Lean Waterfall is the best practice for uplifting ERP software be it Epicor Kinetic or QAD.
Where does this notion come from? Perhaps the failed project was attempting Lean Agile as explained in this article by Jason Fair.
Fair, J. (2012). Agile versus Waterfall: approach is right for my ERP project? Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2012 – EMEA, Marseilles, France. Newton Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
Have you ever wondered? How would you do an upgrade quicker, cheaper, better with no drama implementations at an enterprise scale? Any "consultancy" that sells Agile is simply asking you: "Let's just start without a plan and see how it goes." They are selling failure and lining their pockets with your money. At least it is cheap failure though, heh?
The ERP implementation landscape is based on the oft cited Gartner report that 75% of ERP implementations fail.
Cheaper, better and faster - than what?
Stakeholder Expectations: Early, honest and objective.
Stakeholders describe failure, after the fact, as difficult to use, too costly and an excessive implementation timeline. AFTER?
Not surprising. Most implementations and upgrades take longer and cost more than the stakeholders desired. Shouldn't the measure of success or failure be objective? Isn't this why the project charter, project scope statement and baseline budget and schedule exist?
Regardless of the final cost, quality, and delivery date, what businessperson wouldn’t take cheaper, better, and faster?
Waterfall is work, with little glamor and much upfront planning.
The waterfall project model is a breakdown of project activities into linear sequential phases, where each phase depends on the deliverables of the previous one and corresponds to a specialization of tasks. (Petersen, K., Wohlin, C. & Baca, D. 2009).
The approach is typical for certain areas of engineering design.
 Petersen, Kai; Wohlin, Claes; & Baca, Dejan (2009). The Waterfall Model in Large-Scale Development. Product-Focused Software Process Improvement. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer: 386–400.
GuidelinE: Agile or Waterfall
Assess Turbulence v Quiet & Uncertainty v Certainty Objectively
Almost all projects are a response to an external change causing increased risk or offering an opportunity to a business. To hear it from the proponents of agile, if a project is a response to change then it must be agile. Nay nay.
To be sure, some businesses create change for the sake of change. The fashion industry, the Entertainment industry, and Politicians are such examples. No business changes their ERP simply for the sake of change.
Bear in mind that risk is always a factor OVER TIME! A long running project, by definition, inherits greater risk. Choose wisely.
- Agile Methodology is best in an uncertain and turbulent environment.
- Waterfall Methodology would be best in certain or quiet environments.
Certainty and turbulence are subjective.
Certainty and turbulence are subjective and shaded. Customers and competitors ensure that for most businesses, nothing is ever quiet or certain.
It seems implausible that Lean Agile Methodology is the only choice though.
An excerpt from the Kingsley PM comedy show
“By a show of hands, who doesn’t want to be lean? Sir in the third row? Sumo wrestlers, of course. Madam in the center? Bankers heh, I don’t know. Hold on, back to the sumo wrestlers a moment. Muscle weighs more than fat and since these wrestlers pair up on weight it seems the advantage might go to the leaner sumo by weight class.”
Lean? Few lines of communication in your core team.
5 members ~ 10 lines. Add just 2 members and you more than double the lines.
Lean implies the use of the fewest resources in a business activity. Lean does not equal Agile or Waterfall methodology. For a project to be considered lean, please consider minimal lines of communication as the key metric. Thus, fewer lines of communication appears to be as good a measure as any to leanness.
Lines of Communication = CN (CN-1) / 2 where CN is the number of core team members. (Shrivastava & Narendra K. 2014). If your implementation team is composed of forty (40) team members you now have 780 Lines of Communication. Meaningful communication for the PM is problematic and the solution usually progresses toward 30 or 40 folks in one meeting lasting hours and accomplishing little.-Top-
 PMI Project Management Institute Global Standard (2017). A guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition (2017) ANSI/PMI 99-001-2017 Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments 112.
 Shrivastava & Narendra K. (2014). Do More in Less: Deliver Projects Successfully with Only Eight Powerful Project Management Processes. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2014—North America, Phoenix, AZ. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
A lean project starts with a small squad. Hold on a minute! What about scalability?
The proposition for a lean ERP implementation thus starts with a team or squad of 3 or maybe 5 individuals who are skilled in communication in common; and have skills sets which overlap in core knowledge but mostly are complementary. Together, the squad can execute plans with success.
- The squad is small. A significant advantage against noise.
- The squad needs to be capable of operating across silos.
- Creativity is essential and must be cultivated.
- Rework must be avoided! . REWORK decays morale, fuels attrition and confounds your project plan to irrelevance.
- Refreshing or polishing, but never substantial training.
- Leadership over management.
 PMI Project Management Institute Global Standard (2017). A guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition (2017) ANSI/PMI 99-001-2017 Key concepts for project quality management. 273
Motivated Skill, Experience and Planning vs Scalability
The ultimate in the implementation of lean theory might be the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans, with help from Thespians and Thebans totaling about 1,250, held off 240,000 Persians in 480 BC. The Greeks held for three days, and even though they were ultimately defeated by a traitor and a goat path, their defense is a testimony to a lean strategy.
- Small: The odds were 200 to 1.
- No silos: Every soldier was a fighter.
- Creativity: Superbly demonstrated by battlefield choice.
- Rework: There were no do overs, timeouts, or restarting.
- Skilled: Spartans were well known as crack troops.
- Motivated: Leadership made this campaign a calling, not a job.
 Cartwright, M., 2016. Delian League. [online] Ancient History Encyclopedia. Available at: <http://www.ancient.eu/Delian_League/> [Accessed 29 August 2017].
Consider Lean Waterfall Methodology
The basics of project management for your systems upgrade.
- Realized adverse risk is your foe. Starve this foe of time.
- Minimize lines of communication.
- Elevate expertise over body count. Scalability dilutes responsibility.
- Give sincere recognition and public praise for exceptional work. Never participation awards.
- Be goal oriented with very few policies. Policies are for lackeys. Context is for kings.
- Choose a Project Manager whom your team will admire. Never demand respect, command respect with leadership.