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7 Stages and Tips for Implementation Project Success

Implementation project success is predicated upon a partnership between a company and the experts it hires. New system deployments and improvement initiatives typically utilize implementation methodologies designed to improve the probability of success. Unfortunately, many projects fail for a variety of reasons.

Implementation Methodologies

Every major publisher and consultancy maintain and utilize an implementation methodology. The methodologies:

  • Reduce Implementation Risk – Implementations phases identify required tasks, roles and responsibilities, and often include estimated work for each task. Applying the methodology to specific client circumstances and incorporating the tasks into a roadmap for the project team to follow reduces risk.
  • Provide Predictability and Control – Templates, checklists, tools, and other supporting information with process gates and continuous communication controls costs and achieves anticipated project ROI.

Implementation Phases

Most methodologies have 5-7 phases. The names and durations vary based upon the nature of the project. Typical phases include:

  1. Preparation
  2. Design
  3. Development
  4. Testing
  5. Change Management
  6. Go Live
  7. Post Implementation Support

Various methodologies combined or segregate phases based upon the nature of the project, size of the client, and other factors.

Project Preparation

Often referred to as “Phase 0,” the project preparation stage sets the stage for success. Depending upon the implementation methodology, size of the company, project and corporate culture, the steps in Project preparation will vary. The key and critical tasks in project preparation include:

  • A Project Charter document explains the why of a project. What are the objectives, expectations and timing of the project? A good charter clearly outlines the benefits anticipated and measurements of success. Combined with a budget, the project charter sets the benchmark for the return on investment.
  • Corporate Sponsorship from the appropriate executive is critical to any project success. The executive must be from the appropriate department or division and be of sufficient seniority to demonstrate the importance of the project. Our previous blog on 3 Keys to Project Management Success explains and emphasizes the importance of the executive’s time and involvement throughout the project.
  • Guiding Principles determine how decisions will be made. The objectives of the project charter and the corporate sponsor drive the creation of guiding principles. One of the most common guiding principles is to keep solutions simple.
  • A Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan identifies potential risks and steps to overcome obstacles before encountered to keep a project on schedule. Risks can be internal, external or environmental.

Process Oriented Design

Project success is predicated on a process oriented design. The customer dictates process requirements. Successful design incorporates an understanding of the inputs, transformations and outputs of a process. Systems designed in an ivory tower without the input from customers, suppliers and other interested parties are doomed to inefficiency or failure.

  • Identify the Process Owner for each major business process. The process owner is evaluated on the success of that process, and accordingly, has the most to gain or lose from project success.
  • Begin with the end in mind by gathering the outputs or reports generated by the process and understand how they are used. With that information, you can determine the required inputs to create the required results. Use this information to determine how the quality of the process is influenced by the inputs and their sources to ensure the future process is superior to the current process.
  • People are critical to every process. Include key process contributors in your project to get their input, advice and feedback throughout the project.

Balance the need for documentation with the reality that your design will change during the project. We recommend using flowcharts, screenshots and other pictures to cut down on long winded documents. We adapt our Business Blueprinting methodology to the unique needs of our clients.

Agile Development with Continuous Testing

A synonym for agile is nimble. With a good design and today’s AI and low-code/no-code tools, you can develop quickly and flexibly. Use “sprints” to compartmentalize activities and maintain focus on high priority activities.

  • Introduce components of the solution as they are developed.
  • Ask for feedback from end users as you develop deliverables.
  • Communicate continuously!

The days of waterfall development and multi-year projects are history in the small to mid-sized enterprise market. A journey or continuous improvement program has a destination with multiple projects on the road to success.

Continuous Testing

Testing is continuous when development is broken into components and completed in sprints. Each element’s definition of success identified in the design. Accordingly, required “unit” testing is know prior to development. “System testing” sequentially groups “Units” by process to evaluate the overall process result.

The Afterburner Flawless Execution methodology calls for a red team review. Key stakeholders, not involved in development, provide a final review. External review from experts finds the flaws not anticipated by the team. The continuous testing mindset improves development quality and results. Most importantly, continuous testing reduces rework and lowers total project cost.

Change Management

Change management is a systemic approach to the human aspects of transformation to meet an organization’s goals. Although listed near the end of a methodology, change management starts at the commencement of the project. Change management includes:

  • Leadership that encourages participation.
  • Multi-touch communication strategies.
  • Training
  • Resource allocation and re-allocation to meet objectives.
  • Ensuring advocacy and ownership for and of the new process.

Management must recognize the importance of change management and assign responsibility for communication, advocacy and training throughout the project.

  • Initial training for the core team in the new technology and methodology to ensure they make informed decisions.
  • Staff must be aware that change is coming and how it will help them individually.
  • Documented and train staff in new processes for proper execution.

Organizational change requires organizational participation. The change management team not only communicates to the staff, but encourages the entire organization to participate, and ensures they know how and where to provide feedback and ask for more information.

Go-Live

Regardless of the intricacies of your planning, amount of testing and quality of your training, go live is stressful. Go-Live is a time of change. Although anticipating benefits, end-users generally hate change. When properly planned, a choreographed set of moves, sequenced and meticulously planned creates go-live success. Unanticipated circumstances arise and expecting problems improves response time.

Go-live is one of those times where on-site presence is important. In addition to improving response time, being with the users relives fear. Go-live success greatly impacts the perceived overall success of your project.

Ensuring Project Success

At I-BN our team provides project and program management services for partners and customers through our CXO Services team. Because we have worked with many companies and products, we have used numerous selection, implementation, improvement and transformation methodologies. The odds of project success increase with an experienced Project Manager leading the team.

  • An executive with industry experience, who has worked in management and knows the subject matter of the project can relate to all constituents
  • For larger projects, consider a manager who has worked in a Project Management Office (PMO) and has a PMP Certification.

To lean more about I-BN CxO services complete a CxO Exploration request

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