5 Tactics for Risk Collaboration in Specialty Software Projects

Many organizations choose to implement specialty software products as a business solution. The benefits of doing so vary from filling critical gaps in a company's portfolio of solutions and services to enabling a quick response to new regulations, such as health and safety mandates.  

Never assume that because a solution is smaller in size, you can take a relaxed approach to risk management. With enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, success requires collaboration between the project manager and the software provider to manage risks.

Here are some successful tactics for risk collaboration with specialty software providers:    

1. Encourage leadership engagement.
While it is rare to meet a company CEO, it is likely you will work with the CEO of a specialty software provider. Early in the project, create a deep level of engagement between the leadership teams. For example, connect someone from your leadership team with the head of product development. An early leadership engagement will create a quicker path to resolve any issues.  

2. Gain high visibility during analysis and design phases.
During the early phases of a project, a high level of visibility will help you to avoid costly errors in later phases. Early visibility also results in a quicker path to understanding the overall solution. For example, conduct design sessions at the specialty software provider's office.  

3. Align methods and terminology.
Invest effort early on in the project to harmonize methods, phases, deliverable formats and milestones. Agree on the terms for completing a project phase, as well as common terminology. For example, define the difference between a customization versus configuration. When you agree on these things early on, it's less likely any confusion or miscommunication will pop up.

4. Make site visits.
Nothing is more effective than talking with a current customer about their experiences with a specialty software provider. These discussions create visibility to both best practices and challenges. Utilize this outside view to refine your project risk approach.  

5. Don't underestimate contingency.
Even if a specialty software provider is smaller than an ERP company, it will still have the same fundamental delivery risks. Using a straight percentage for contingency may not be sufficient. Discuss with the specialty software provider a special contingency allocation to manage risks.

Do you have any tactics for risk collaboration?

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