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This month at WNDYR, we’re talking about change.
Organisations choose to implement new software to improve quality of delivery through improved visibility and collaboration, to decrease costs through the improvement of processes and use of resources, and to enable teams and executives to make better decisions through access to better information and insights.
But anyone that has gone through the process of implementing new software will tell you a story that involves a dip in productivity, a roller coaster of emotions, uncomfortable moments of honesty and a very stretched team.
The 2016 Innotas annual Project and Portfolio Management Survey, pooled over 125 Information Technology organisations and the results revealed that 55% of those companies had experienced project failure. According to a recent study by IBM, only 40% of IT projects are successful when measured against the original goals related to quality, resources and scheduling.
The inability to meet project targets is symptomatic of larger problems such as unclear project objectives, gaps in communication and poor project and risk management. Solutions to these problems are a combination of people, processes, and technology. There is no ‘magic solution’.
In helping customers implement technology that changes the fabric of how work is done in their organisations, we also experience the pain teams feel while deploying project management solutions. Below you’ll find a list of the three biggest reasons projects fail.
1. Lack of time to execute this project
Time is where a lot of problems manifest for anyone implementing new software. Usually, deploying a new internal tool is one of many projects that managers are involved in. And in most instances, other projects are prioritised due to being customer-facing or directly impacting the bottom line.
Managers are faced with a choice of either focusing their time and attention serving customers today or investing time in implementing a tool that will help them increase future project capacity. The instinct here is to push back to a “quieter time of the year” or to delegate it to someone with less experience in the team.
By pushing the project back, managers think they are buying time when in reality perfect timing will never arrive, as customer-facing projects will continue to take priority. If the team leader decides to delegate this project to a junior member of the team, they expose the team to even greater risk of failure due to a lack of knowledge about internal processes and inability to connect the dots (as they might not have visibility of the strategic elements of the implementation). They will also likely encounter a much higher barrier to getting buy-in from key members of the team as the project might not be viewed as critical.
For this reason, a guided implementation process is ideal to help teams that are already stretched to fit in the extra work and enable managers to shift focus between customer-facing and work-optimisation projects.
2. The team are not adapting to change and are reverting to old ways of working
Implementing tools that transform the way the team works on a daily basis will always require a change in mindset. One of the most common pain points project managers experience is when some people start reverting back to old and comfortable ways of doing things.
Losing the team’s confidence can happen at different stages of the process:
- The failure to capture team feedback at the qualification and requirements phase, which might result in sluggish timelines, losing trust in the chosen platform, or worse, the absence of critical features.
- When approaching the implementation from a purely technical standpoint, the lack of understanding of the day-to-day running of the department might result in a final set-up that feels clunky and not intuitive, which will lead users to revert back to doing things like they used to.
- When there is insufficient two-way communication between the team and the project managers to really understand the nitty-gritty of the team’s needs and explanations of why it is important for the company to change the way they operate. Many people might not understand the business strategy, why the change is happening and why it is important to comply.
Those are just a few examples of where the team can start losing confidence and why it is critical to ensure that there is a plan for change-management in place from day one. From how the tool is introduced to how workflows are communicated and compliance is managed, ensuring the team is a part of this project and buys into the bigger picture will define whether or not the roll-out will be successful and yield the desirable results long-term.
3. My team doesn’t have software implementation experience and we don’t know what to do
The implementation of a new software can be a complex project with many stakeholders, multiple phases, a lot of communication layers and high volume of work that needs to be performed by the team and approved by the leadership. Therefore, utilising a structured project management methodology to run the project is not just an option, it is a must.
But more often than not, the assigned project lead is the manager of a department such as sales, marketing or finance and they might not possess effective project management skills or experience necessary, and this can become one of the biggest risk factors of the project. A team lead that has never run a software implementation project before or has limited knowledge of project management methodologies will not be able to plan effectively and foresee and mitigate possible roadblocks in relation to schedule or quality of the deliverables.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of poor management skills during the implementation process:
- Overwhelmed: Not breaking down the deliverables into a detailed set of tasks and not identifying the dependencies between them can cause the team to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be completed and cause unnecessary confusion.
- Uncertainty about project status: Lack of visibility of what tasks have been completed and which ones remain incomplete creates uncertainty and frustration.
- Feeling of chaos: The inability to plan, communicate and coordinate resources effectively can cause major roadblocks when it comes to completing tasks. This leads to project delays and a decrease in quality.
- Poor risk management: Not adjusting the budget, deadline, and capacity for future work based on the current reality can have an impact on the success of the project.
In summary, a specialist onboarding team like WNDYR will help to plan and organise the project effectively while supporting the needs of you and your team. They will ensure that your team buys into the project and is excited about the new way of working. Specialists will also support your team with robust project management skills and the use of a structured and standardised methodology that helps managers plan, execute and measure progress while ensuring long-term project success.
It’s a winning strategy.