1. DEFINITION OF THE PROJECT Be clear about the objectives of the project. Be detailed in describing your business processes, desired future state, and how these will be implemented.
2. PROJECT MANAGEMENT Leverage and communicate with your Project Managers on all sides of the project: the overall PM, the Vendor PM and your internal PM. PM’s keep the project on course, tracking the details, monitoring status and coordinating resources, internal and external. Most Business Owners, Department Leads and IT Managers lack the time to both run a successful project and manage day to day business. In all projects, the distance between success and failure is in this decision.
3. THE TEAM Assemble a knowledgeable and diverse group of members for the project. Include participants from different business units and functional areas. They should either have the ability to make decisions or have support from management to get decisions quickly. Teams contain an assortment of personalities, which need to be understood for project success. You will have the very cautious Eeyores, the enthusiastic Tiggers, the slow but wise Poohs, and all types in between. Make sure you communicate with each of them on a regular basis in the language they can hear. Comfort the Eeyores, excite the Tiggers, and provide clear details to the Poohs! Don’t forget to bring in the new faces – the people who are excited and enthusiastic about learning new things. While the people who have done things the same way for the last 30 years are important, as repositories of knowledge and gatekeepers to keep the project from spinning into outer space, the Tiggers are needed to keep the energy ignited and high.
4. LISTEN This will help you recognize the obstacles that people are facing, their fears, and concerns. It often reveals what needs to be addressed to keep the momentum of the project moving forward.
5. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE Keep everyone “in the know” if parameters change, deadlines move, or just so they are aware of the current status. Invite all parties involved to collaborate. Help management and line employees alike understand any new development on the project. No issue is too small to report during the training and testing processes. Keeping the lines of communication open encourages and improves feedback.
6. TRAINING AND PRACTICE The #1 answer to “What would you have done differently to improve the success of your project?” Don’t short cut training! Begin training early, work with the project team to create materials and procedures tailored to your organization. Have a practice plan, evaluate users on their level of comprehension, and retrain as needed.
7. SCOPE Don’t try to do everything at once. Most upgrade projects typically have “side” projects such as implementation of replacement software, elimination of modifications, learning a new user interface. Minimize additional projects when a big change is being introduced to the business. Keep a list of Phase 2 and beyond items to revisit in the future. Focus Phase 1 on the core project and only the must-have side projects, especially for User Facing or Customer Facing projects.
8. ADAPTABILITY Be flexible and adaptable. All projects have obstacles that need to be addressed and overcome. Recognize that they may occur and have a risk mitigation plan. Be ready to steer the project in the direction it needs to go to address, circumvent, delay or walk around the obstacle. Build time into the project for change.
9. EVALUATION Evaluate the project regularly as to progress, and again at the end to make sure it’s achieved its’ stated purpose. Review and determine when you will introduce new procedures and implement Phase 2. Have your consultant do a review 6-9 months after an upgrade or implementation project to make sure you are leveraging your investment and optimizing features in the software.