The Need for a Project Champion to Implement QuickBooks

I’ve heard the term project champion thrown around all of the time during my course of implementing software, and it comes with different meanings, flavors, and connotations almost every time. The implementer’s perspective of a project champion is often very different from the client’s perspective. So, what exactly is the definition of a project champion?

The project champion is a person within the organization in which you are trusting to implement the software. They are the key source of driving the project and implementation to completion on the client’s behalf. The project champion will wear many hats, but this is the one that is most critical and reflective of the excitement that was initially generated for this new application, which continues to be kept a high level throughout the process.

Working with QuickBooks® and custom software development, I often come across clients where we sit down and discuss putting in place a new software system like QuickBooks. We review it together and look at all the great benefits, and they almost immediately and enthusiastically decide to proceed. Together, we get started on the project. The first week is great, as they provide me with everything I need in a very timely manner, are attentive to detail and are immediately looking for the next actionable item. The second week is a little bumpier. While they are still active, there is now a one-day delay in getting critical information over to me, they revert to email rather than phone calls and they maybe have overlooked a few items in their data migration template. The third week comes along and I receive an “out of office” message, making it harder and harder to progress with the project. The cycle will continue in this fashion, depreciating the initial excitement of the project.

This is where the importance of having a project champion is crucial. They work with you to continue the progression of the implementation, from the very start all the way through to the launch. Some of the key responsibilities of a project champion are:

  • Identifying a project’s strategic objectives.
  • Working with the project team to ensure the vision for the project is successfully translated into the requirements and solution design.
  • Critically analyzing and ensuring best practices.
  • Identifying and eliminating obstacles that may threaten a project’s viability within the organization itself.
  • Prioritizing project phases based on value.
  • Relaying timely updates to all managers and client contacts impacted team members.
  • Appropriately allocating and organizing internal resources to ensure the successful completion implementation or adoption of a project.

It’s important to remember that as an implementer, it’s not you. You are already aware of the benefits the client will receive, how it will improve the client’s productivity and efficiency, and how it will ideally assist in making the client more profitable. This is where the pitfall often occurs and can result in not meeting client expectations, delays in implementation or a complete failure of implementation. When the consultant or implementer takes on this role, it is often termed as a “surrogate manager.” You are taking over the responsibilities identified above, which takes away from your ability to focus on the components necessary for you to successfully implement the application.

I recommend that the role of a project manager be clearly defined at the outset of every project. They must be able to identify who that person is. This will go a long way in ensuring the successful implementation of QuickBooks, and really, any new software application that is being put in place.