So Your Organization is About to Tackle a Major Technology Change…

Here’s what you need to do to set your team up for success before procurement

Acquiring new technology can be intimidating and challenging but with a sound, measured approach, it can be a very rewarding experience for the team directly involved in the project and for the entire organization. Achieving that rewarding experience requires a good plan and a lot of hard work.­­

Although there is no single plan that can be used for all acquisitions and implementations, many of the same elements apply and coupling the plan with a sound process will lead down a path to a successful acquisition and implementation. Our key success factors are outlined below.

Create a Solid Plan

A good plan requires careful consideration of all factors. Besides making the right informed decision on a solution, creating a well thought-out plan is arguably the most important task. It may seem to be a simple task, but it should not be taken lightly. Just as a good recipe guides the creation of a fantastic meal, a good plan guides the team through the process to completion. The plan helps to avoid missed tasks and assuring tasks occur in the proper order and at the proper time to meet the goal and deadline.

Changes to the plan are normal and should be made as necessary as the project progresses. However, a good plan also defines a good change control process so that each change is reviewed and evaluated carefully to determine if and how it should be incorporated.

Prepare the Organization

One of the early tasks to address is preparing the organization and setting the tone for the project. This means having a project sponsor who is motivated and can set the tone for everyone in the organization to understand the importance of the effort and their role in helping the project succeed.

Setting the tone includes stating the goals and selling the approach. The organization must be on the same page with the purpose and direction in which the project is going in order to be successful in implementing and adopting the new system. When people understand the goals and motivations behind a project, they are more likely to accept decisions, even if they feel uncomfortable with the decisions.

The project team should communicate with everyone who is directly or indirectly affected by the project so they understand what is about to transpire and how they will be affected.

Communications should briefly describe the intent and end goals for undertaking the effort and convey management’s commitment to the process and the project. It is important to note that if any promises are made (such as updates in every quarterly newsletter), those items are tasked to someone to ensure those promises are kept. Communication should be a focused and consistent effort, providing value to everyone involved.

Resource Allocation

Resource allocation works hand-in-hand with the Preparing the Organization task. Although the initial allocation of resources may only involve project management and/or project leadership, it is crucial to have resources assigned to and responsible for the initial steps of the project. Then an evaluation of what resources are needed should be completed. Some of the thoughts/questions in this evaluation process should include the who, what, when and how many resources will be required.

In the evaluation of what resources are required, special consideration needs to be made regarding internal resources. Will those resources be dedicated to the effort or is it part-time participation? If the individuals are to be dedicated, how is there current work load to be handled (redistributed to other staff members or will the job be back-filled)? If it is to be part-time, understand the expectations and how management will make that staff available or add more resources.

The use of contract resources can be very effective, less stressful and less complicated. However, they do not replace internal resources that are still needed to drive the correct solution for the organization. They know the organization, the current processes, issues, gaps and constraints better than anyone. This information can be invaluable and result in the most successful adoption of the new system, so careful evaluation of resources and the best, proper use of resources is crucial.

Set Goals

The purpose for the project should lead to a list of goals that the project is to achieve. Goals aren’t just for vendors or collaborators. They also help ensure everyone in the organization is on the same page. Once the goals have been identified and agreed upon, it is important to have a clear description of each goal and what you are trying to accomplish so everyone has the same understanding.

Goals are even more important when evaluating proposals from vendors. They provide clearer guidelines for the evaluators by which to judge the proposals. It allows several evaluators or groups of evaluators to complete their work and ensure the focus and purpose of the project remains consistent.

As you communicate regularly within the organization and stakeholders, you can remind them of these goals and how they are being met with the new solution to help drive your success.

Setting and Weighting the Organization’s Priorities

Setting goals is necessary but understanding the significance of each goal is also important. If there are 10 goals, obviously not all 10 goals can have the same level of importance. By setting the priorities, everyone in the organization has a clearer picture of the purpose of the project, and the project team is driven to the same end as they go about executing their tasks. Setting priorities also helps avoid conflicts between departments within the organization, especially when difficult decisions must be made.

Setting a weight for each priority is also useful when evaluating proposals. It is an excellent management tool to help achieve a consistent evaluation among individuals or groups.

Be Realistic About Expectations

Naturally every project should achieve as much as possible. But what are the true expectations? What is reality? What does success look like?

Knowing the desired expectations is one thing but getting everything may not be realistic. Wanting everything is good but getting 100 percent at an affordable cost or within an acceptable time frame may be an entirely different matter.

Be prepared to accept less than 100 percent of the original desired expectations. Get clear on what MUST be met to achieve project success. This may be 75 percent of the original desired expectations and will allow the organization to meet priority goals and benefit tremendously.

 

Taking on a large IT project for your organization is a major effort that will require everyone’s commitment. By creating a solid plan, adequately preparing the organization, sufficiently allocating internal resources to the project, setting the correct goals and weighing each priority accordingly, and having realistic expectations of project outcomes, your organization will be set up for success.