If you’re looking into re-aligning your IT project, you may find it hard to figure out where to begin. To help, we’ve charted 6 steps below, which if you follow in the right manner will help you to get your project back on track and aid you in achieving a successful, fit for purpose implementation. This is not the be all and end all of every process you need to adopt. However, it focuses on the key elements we often see missing from problematic IT implementations.
1. Re-appraise your overall business objectives
Look again at the organisational, financial and operational objectives you want to achieve once the implementation is complete. Since achieving these business outcomes is the whole purpose of your IT project, they are the starting point for everything that follows. Your objectives need to be absolutely clear and appropriately quantified, so you can measure progress against them. You may find that after re-evaluating your objectives that they’ve changed slightly. If so, ensure that these are documented and quantified appropriately so that they can be easily communicated and understood by your own teams, and those of the vendor. This will help both parties to understand why there’s a need for project re-alignment and what needs to change.
2. Develop your governance
When changes are made, or new processes need to be introduced, you may find that your governance needs to change. In these instances, you need to set out a terms of reference for an overall governance structure that is aligned to a much closer working partnership. Ensure the right people sit on the governance board and that everyone understands how it should work, this will help to ensure a fit for purpose system implementation.
3. Prioritise your goals
Work with your vendor to identify key deliverables, milestones and performance measures. Together with your vendor, complete a SWOT analysis and business case for those deliverables, so you can prioritise the business outcomes you want to achieve and by when. This helps the vendor to understand what you’re trying to achieve, and why; it also gives the vendor an opportunity to challenge any of your elected priorities and raise any concerns or possible stumbling blocks. When these goals are agreed upon and have the buy-in of both parties, you’ll be in a better position to collaboratively tackle them.
4. Arrange for your vendor to re-evaluate your business outcomes
Set out a terms of reference with your vendor for each of the priorities and solutions you would like your vendor to deliver, and by when. Your vendor will need to undertake appropriate scoping of the business outcomes. The output of these exercises will be for the vendor to confirm the cost and timescales of what it will do to achieve the key deliverables and business outcomes, as well as informing you of any compromises it would be appropriate for you to accept and the impact of those compromises on your business outcomes.
5. Work out the delivery process
Once the vendor has re-scoped your priorities and business outcomes, you’ll have a much clearer idea of which deliverables will need to be worked on first and by when. Identifying the people in both organisations who can build or maintain commercial trust is the key. With the right people with the right values in place, you can rapidly drive successful implementation.
6. Implementation recovery
Your IT vendor should now be ready to start implementation, so that it is aligned with the scoping exercises and delivers a fit for purpose system that enables you to achieve your expected business outcomes.
During implementation, you should:
Focus on the solution being fit for purpose. This points everyone in the right direction and helps prevent petty squabbles derailing your progress.
Reward honest behaviour. Individuals who try hard, admit to and learn from their mistakes are worth their weight in gold, both on your team and the vendor’s. They will jump through fire to improve delivery, lead commercial trust behaviours and make the relationship work. Reward and acknowledge that behaviour.
Realign the written contract terms. Once re- scoping has been completed, make sure the contract terms and schedules are aligned with the re-scoping exercise, and the deliverables and objectives agreed as a result.
Make commercial trust inherent. Bear in mind that at some point, the individuals operating the agreement from your organisation and the vendor could change. If you don’t have commercial trust embedded in the relationship, then the goodwill between your organisation and the vendor can rupture. If commercial trust is endemic, then the impact will be minimal.
Have visibility of compromises. The re-scoping will provide your vendor with much greater clarity of your expected outcomes and will allow it to provide you with much clearer and holistic advice.
You need your vendor to identify what it can deliver, what it cannot and the compromises you’ll need to live with. From a contractual perspective, this allows you to reinforce the trust you are building, and you can both rely contractually on the advice you have sought from your vendor separately to the solution they are providing.
Update your performance management as necessary. During the course of the implementation, it’s imperative your vendor (and your own team) are held to account to ensure the implementation stays on track and achieves your business objectives. Keep monitoring your performance, project and contract management framework, to ensure it keeps both you and your vendor on track.
You should now…
Have developed an understanding of why you are experiencing problems with your implementation, what your vendor’s expert responsibilities are and the importance of commercial trust to achieving your business outcomes. You’ll now need to be clearer about your business outcomes; prioritise them with your vendor, and have your vendor undertake appropriate due diligence on them and work out how they will be delivered. Having done this, you will be in a position to recover the implementation, using commercial trust behaviours and ensuring the contractual terms and performance management frameworks are aligned to achieving your business outcomes.