With the increased use of independent verification and validation (IV&V) in large ERP projects, there seems to be some common misconceptions about the real value that IV&V is meant to bring to public sector ERP implementations.
IV&V is considered a “best practice” within the technology industry. The primary value of IV&V in the public sector is in identifying high-risk areas early in the project, which allows the organization to either mitigate risks or prepare contingencies. It also provides project managers and IT staff with an objective analysis that helps them deal with system development issues and offers improved visibility into the progress and quality of the development effort.
Despite these benefits, organizations should pay careful attention to the perception and the dynamics of the internal project team and IV&V team. Some project managers feel threatened by the IV&V team, believing they are only there to spy on them, undermine their authority or quite simply point fingers. In reality, the IV&V team should be a welcome presence as it can actually provide more time for the project manager to think more strategically about the project as a whole. Following are five common areas that an IV&V team can address during an ERP implementation and change initiative:
Are there objective acceptance criteria that the purpose and objectives of the demonstrated results are in the final product? IV&V is typically brought in for testing efforts. While this is a very critical activity, it should not be the only reason to engage an IV&V team. Our experience and research shows that “cutting corners” to minimize short-term cost actually increases long-term cost. IV&V should provide a 360-degree assessment of the entire implementation.
An ERP implementation should be a partnership between the organization and the IV&V team, where the IV&V team provides tangible measurement and alternatives and helps identify issues, which may not be immediately visible. The IV&V team is ineffective if it simply tries to tell the project team what to do – it must engage the project team and help the organization understand that IV&V is essential for systemic change.
Independent verification and validation is a time-tested methodology that should be carefully considered as a relatively low-cost insurance policy at the outset of any public sector ERP implementation.