Alan Whitehouse's Ramblings

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Scoping and Pricing PPS Planning Projects

Posted by Alan on January 14, 2009

Scoping and pricing our latest project seems to be how I spent the last month of my life.  I know it wasn’t, but man it sure did feel like it at times.  It would all be easy if client’s would only give me unlimited time and unlimited budget, but so far no one has been willing to take me up on that offer.

The difficulty in putting scope and price around PPS is that it is a blank slate to start and the final solution can ultimately be anything one desires.   Successful projects need to have very tight project management because scope creep is a very easy thing to have happen during these project.  The more a client sees the value in PPS, the more they want.  It is ultimately a good thing but can certainly blow a project budget if left unchecked.

So here are the top three areas that I think can lead to breaking the budget if you don’t scope, price and pay attention to correctly during the project:

  • Integrations:  A PPS project will most likely have a number of integrations.  The first is most obvious — integrating data from an ERP (or other) system to populate “actuals” for users to see during the budgeting process.  Some systems are easier to get data out of than others even if they are SQL Server based.  Do integrations to Oracle or DB2 on UNIX and you have added a whole new level of complexity.  In addition, the source data may not map directly to the dimensions being used in the model and need to be transformed prior to integration.  Then the concept of integrating dimension members and dimension hierarchies along with all the process control that has to be accounted for rears its ugly head .  Finally, don’t forget that the planning data may also need to be sent back to some other system when the process is complete.   
  • Rule Creation:  With some experience the process of creating rules begins to go rather quickly.  However, testing newly created rules can become rather tedious.   This is due to the fact that to truly test there needs to be enough good data in the system to ensure that the rules are working across all situations while taking into account various security levels, null values and rule types.  Creating this data and then ensuring the rules are working as planned (even for simple rules) can eat up a good amount of time.
  • Input Form Design:  I think this may be one of the easiest places to get bogged down and lose time.  Creating a basic import form is simple and quick.  Creating an optimized input form that is also nicely formated and is the type clients actually want can take a lot of time.  Never underestimate how long the cosmetic side of the equation will take to make each form “just right”.  Take 20 or 30 forms and multiply that by 1 hour of extra design time each and real dollars begin to emerge.  

My final piece of advice.  Start with small projects on a time and material basis until you get some real life experience.  Good luck.

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