Project success is about so much more than meeting deadlines and completing to-do lists. Having successfully worked on projects of all shapes and sizes (as well as having worked on a couple of not so successful ones!) I've set out three key steps to making sure your project meets with success.
You may have the best software on the market, but without adoption from your user community you will never be able to call a project a true success. Moreover, you would be mistaken in assuming that adoption will simply happen if the software is perfect and meets all of the requirements.
The user is King, and as such must be at the forefront of the entire project approach. You need to make sure that the users understand the importance of the new system, feel part of the decision making and implementation processes, maintain a sense of ownership over the product. In short, the user needs to act as a system champion to everyone within earshot.
Involving key users in the implementation phase of a project creates a sense of ownership and reduces the chances of users feeling that a system has been forced upon them. After all, who are systems implemented for if not the end user? Definitely not for the CEO, or procurement, or the legal eagle pouring over the contract. Systems are procured in order to improve the day-to-day life of regular users, so ignore them at your peril.
Having said that, I cannot stress how essential it is to also establish and maintain senior level buy-in to the high-level goals of the project in order to ensure its success. Buy-in ensures commitment to seeing the project through to the end. This in turn will increase the chances of the right people within the client organisation being allocated the time and space to see the project through. Even more crucially, it will also allow for senior level exposure to the problems experienced and how the technology at hand can address them.
Whether you're communicating good news or bad, it is always essential to keep everyone that is working on a project fully up to speed with progress updates, impediments and successes. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but things don’t always go 100% according to plan. There will occasionally be hiccups. Its very easy to hide behind silence and try to work hard to turn unfortunate developments around before having to reveal their impact to the team.
However, this is never the best approach. Honesty, openness and integrity are key to building up trust and getting a working relationship off on the right foot, whichever side you are on. We’re all better off when we talk things out with each other - project success is no different. Regular and specific communication is easy to achieve and will help to smoothe over any bumps in the road, allowing teams to work together to come up with solutions that will ensure a winning result.
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