Project Critical Success Factors & Challenges

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A project is considered successful when you can execute it within the defined timeline, budget, and quality.

Let’s dive further into this.

At the end of the engagement, you should have met or outperformed objectives in terms of revenue and contribution. You should also have delivered On Time and Above Client Expectations (OTACE). And finally, you should have been paid by the “happy” customer.

Having a detailed project plan with WBS elements, activities, tasks, timelines, resources, milestones, and proper buffers at different phases of the project is critical.

  • Comparing the actual results with the budget and the forecast re-estimates
  • Good relationship between the client and consultants by having a high “team spirit” attitude
  • Effective and proactive communications, reporting, reminders, and escalations
  • Ensuring the client pays as per the contract

Phases of Project Management

stepping blocks to success

As you know, top level management is always involved with the commitment for decisions and approvals. You must also make sure that the infrastructure is properly ready to address the project. Lastly, you must make sure there are enough resources, whether that be from the client side or consultant side.

All phases are critical, but the blueprinting stage is something that can make or break your project relationship. On both sides, there needs to be 100% availability of core team members who are dedicated and committed to seeing the project through. This team needs to have quality input with good and swift decision making skills to deal with any concerns or issues that arise. Along with that, there needs to be a standardization of processes across groups and regions. In the blueprinting phase there must be a business process realignment with the “to-be” design. In order to justify your actions to the client side, there must be proper knowledge transfers with clear expectations and a clear identification of scope, gaps, and objectives.

To create an understanding between the two parties involved, there must be effective risk and issue management policies. There are plenty of studies related to quick issue resolution and mitigating risk. Another part of the realization phase is having an effective scope and requirements plan to avoid scope creep.

With final preparations, there is always testing! In order to assure a smooth Go-Live, proper integration testing and end user training should be performed before pushing the button.

So you finally go-live…
But things aren’t quite ready to completely hand off. As the project manager, you must implement proper issue resolution and something in the industry we call “hand-holding”. This term is not meant to coddle the end users or say that they are incapable of handling their system, but it will create an effective migration of responsibility from the consultants to the client. You are not to just leave them out to dry; establish a long term help-desk or some sort of support so if any issues arise, they can be handled appropriately. To prepare for inevitable organization changes in the future, you must create a system to manage those changes without having to go back to the client site and teach all over again. We call this organization change management.

Project Challenges

man jumping over cliff

Below is a checklist you can follow to make sure there are no hiccups along the way.

  • Start hiring well before time and arrange for subcontractors
  • Involve employees in improvement programs, R&D and new technology initiatives, POC’s, prototypes, solutions, and demos
  • Give the resources a sense of ownership, more accountability, responsibility and delegation
  • Recognize and reward talent (this will create lasting value and trust among your employees)
  • Give them proper training and tools
  • Training and KT can be arranged via SAP reference material, online SAP tutorials, blogs, articles, SAP teched nominations, project documentations, pre-configured solutions and business scenarios with SAP best practices
  • Give your team clarity of roles and responsibilities
  • Respectful work environment, this is a two-way street and should be implemented from the top-level
  • Believe in teamwork and work with the team to give them solutions and strategies
  • Motivate, lead and guide from the front to maximize their potential and propel them in the right direction
  • Understand and manage cultural differences between both parties
  • Understand and address their pains and concerns to develop a mutual trust

But it’s not that simple.

Since you are the lead for the project, create a method to adhere to project timelines and avoid any delays if possible. Auritas suggests the following:

  • Have a detailed project plan with proper buffers
  • Keep track of the project through good monitoring and control by measuring KPI’s for Delivery and Financials.
  • Have a good relationship between the consultants and clients to avoid delays based purely on resentment.
  • Always add new resources since it is better to have an excess rather than not enough.
  • Effective use of the client is imperative; you should deliver only what is required, and hand off other work packages to the client resources/AMS team/ Next release.
  • To mitigate realization and implementation times, make efficient use of re-usables such as templates, business blueprints, functional specifications, technical specifications, test scripts, programs, reports, function modules, coding and configurations.

Lift your margins

woman lifting hands to sky

Keep Margins Positive!

Optimize a pyramid hierarchy in order to have less seniors and more juniors, this will create a sense of trust and quality. Remaining cost averse is pinnacle to your positive margins; this includes a reduction in expenses and non-people related costs such as: travel, hotels vs service apartments, negotiations with 3rd parties, and group licenses. There are ways to increase revenue by selling more change requests for work that is out of scope and client-side delays. Remaining aligned to the contract will ensure that payments are on-time and increase productivity/cost control.

Hopefully now you are better equipped to handle any situations that arise in your future projects. Here at Auritas, we thrive based on these key thoughts and are glad to share our expertise.


Auritas is geared with the data and content experts to help you at any phase of your project. If you have an SAP system and are interested in learning more, then please contact us.

We welcome all questions and comments! If you have anything specific that you’re unsure about, one of our experts can reach out to you.

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