The 5 Point Program to Get Your Business Transformation Back on Track
Your company spent months – perhaps even years – to evaluate and select the best-in-class enterprise technology that would transform your organization, drive business growth, make your employees’ jobs easier, improve your overall customer experience, and get you higher up on the ladder of success, right? You were likely excited, certainly motivated, at the prospect of such a transformational project being implemented in your organization and, as a leader, you were able to get the company on board with this new direction. Awesome. Well done.
Your Project Management Office (PMO) kicked into gear to organize the project, A+ resources were curated, the vendor got engaged, and the project “kick off” pulled it all together as your organization energetically embarked upon a highly visible, costly, and extremely high priority initiative. Senior executives, stakeholders, project executives, management, team members, and your vendors became excited and motivated to work on what is likely the biggest and most transformative program your organization has undertaken in years, probably decades.
However, as your project progressed, the enormity and complexity seemed to grow exponentially, with challenges on project scope, climbing costs, resources, issues, technology, the vendor, you name it. Those minor twinges in your stomach started quickly turning into full blown angst, perhaps manifesting as fears and anxiety.
Does this sound at all familiar? If so, you are in the right place.
A quick way to cut through this growing emotional turmoil is to simply ask “why”. Why are you worried? What feelings are coming up? After all, whose reputation is on the line? How likely is it that these concerns will turn into real problems? Or are these obstacles and hiccups already becoming major problems for you and your organization? What will happen if you do nothing?
While “do nothing” may be an option in many scenarios, it is decidedly not the best strategy in this case. Especially if your organization’s transformational program is faltering or going off the rails. Regardless of your timeline, now is a good time to take stock and apply our straightforward 5 Point Program to address your concerns and re-align the program to get back on track before bigger problems arise.
Read on to learn more and follow the steps in our 5 Point Program to getting your organization’s transformational project headed in the right direction.
Step 1: Assess
First things first: When plans start to go awry, it is imperative to survey the situation, estimate the damage, and determine the root cause of the problem(s).
Take a step back and assess the program, the organization and, yes, even yourself. Be honest with yourself about where things are at. Sometimes when we evaluate the scenario objectively we find that the problem may not be as bad as it was estimated to be. Other times, we find that the project has taken so many detours that the damage is even worse than the PMO gauged.
Before you can figure out the next best steps to get back on track toward a healthy outcome, you will need to determine why your organization is in its current situation.
To accurately assess your organization’s progress, answer the following questions:
- Were you truly ready to start the project?
- Were all of the project’s constituents prepared?
- Overall, was your organization ready?
- Are you operating with “the end in mind”?
- Do you have line of sight for critical path transformation, with a clear plan of action between the starting point and the end goal?
- If so, can you determine at which step(s) in the action plan your organization began to falter?
- Gather opinions from your team members, leaders, and even your vendors.
- What are the team dynamics, communication styles, strengths, and weaknesses of team members and leaders?
- Do the true strengths of your team members correlate to their individual responsibilities on this project?
- As a project sponsor or key stakeholder, where are you – physically, mentally, and emotionally?
- Are you present and available in project operations?
- Are you engaged, motivated, and focused?
- Does everyone see that?
- If not, what do they see?
- How might your visibility and participation affect the motivation of your project teams or specific team members?
- In regard to this project, what areas has your organization succeeded in so far?
- Why have these areas been more successful?
- Are you and your team celebrating your successes?
- Do you have specific, objective measurements to indicate the health of the project?
- How are you measuring the overall success of this project and each of its stages of development?
- What are the main goals of the project?
- Have these goals been explicitly communicated to your teams?
- Are all team members on board with what a successful project implementation will look like, and what that means for your organization?
- Are the main goals of the project currently at risk?
- Who are the key players, and how are they held accountable to their responsibilities?
- Rate their performance.
- How efficient are these teams or individuals?
- How is their time being managed and balanced with other responsibilities?
- What is the current process of communication?
- When obstacles arise in the course of the project, how are they identified and remedied?
Step 2: Align
Now that you have an objective view into the current status of your business transformation project, we can use this information to align or realign the project objectives, charter, and success factors to get your organization back on track.
If the project objectives, charter, and success factors were not clearly defined or previously created, then it is time to ensure these elements are aligned and communicated to all team members.
Using your answers from the questions in Step 1, organize your output into 3 key areas that outline your current state and the desired state of your business transformation project.
You may use this template as an example:
Current State of Project
Desired State of Project
|Goals & Vision|
- In this section, focus on closing any gaps that exist or are predicted. This may include employee education and team training, getting the proper resources in place, or replacing existing resources.
Goals & Vision
- Especially if goals and overall vision were not clearly outlined at the onset of the program, now is a good time to review your organizational, executive, and team goals; they all matter.
- Ensure that you have the rigor in your program that includes managing risks before they become problems, bottom up & top down communication, and solid decision making processes.
Step 3: Accountability
Not all companies understand this critical piece in business transformation: In order for your organization to achieve self-reliance and sustainability beyond this project, your organization must take full responsibility of the program and process. Your business should own the project, not your vendor.
As a project sponsor or key stakeholder, are you still primarily focused on your day job? Are you allowing others to run the program without your vision and leadership? One of the biggest factors – and by far the most overlooked – is that organizations hand the reins of their program to the vendor.
The simple correction is to take charge of the program completely. It is your business – and it is you, not the vendor, that is accountable to the board, stakeholders, suppliers, and customers.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- If you have determined that the program ownership needs to be reabsorbed by your organization, what will this process look like?
- What new systems and structures will need to be put in place in order to take control of the project and achieve ownership?
- Will there be a new chain of command or, perhaps, a new system of communication and decision making?
Above all, the purpose of this step is to ensure that your organization takes accountability of its own business transformation so that the desired outcomes are achieved.
There are outside experts and informed observers that can help you see what you cannot, predict obstacles before they become problems, and know how to set up or improve the strength of your vendor management program. Ultimately, though, your organization should be in control of the business transformation, and the project should remain under your governance and management.
Step 4: Achieve
Now that you have a solid picture of where your organization is today and where you ultimately need it to be in order to see success, you can steer your organization in the right direction. Once you have aligned your teams with a solid holistic structure, and you have taken control of the project, it is important to maintain consistency in leading the process forward to success.
Monitoring your project’s development and staying engaged is required in order to achieve your desired outcomes efficiently and on time.
Create touchpoints beyond the program communication structure that keep you engaged with your team and leadership. Remember that your team’s day to day responsibilities will affect your business transformation project. Manage expectations and monitor performance to ensure that team members are delivering on the steps required to move the project goals forward consistently.
Govern the process according to your charter and maintain an active role in the project’s development. As a project sponsor or key stakeholder, you must lead by example. The dictated processes for proper communication must stay in place, and this may require you to oversee the process more closely in the early stages as well as intermittently checking in. This is especially the case for organizations who have identified issues in communication as one of the reasons their project initially got behind or got off track. Staying engaged with the lead member or key contact in each team can help you to discover problems in the early stages and prevent obstacles from snowballing into bigger issues.
Although large-scale business transformations can produce stress and friction, it is important that you maintain a mindset of responding instead of reacting. Keeping your project on time, on budget, and otherwise on track will require you to course correct at various – and unexpected – points throughout the duration of your project. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Step 5: Accomplish
In the end, technology is not impersonal. Large initiatives consume an inordinate amount of time, money, and resources. They can cause disruptions (to people and to the business as a whole), and they can ultimately negatively impact those the technology is targeted to improve: your end users and your customers.
In order for your organization to see success from this business transformation project, you will need to make some sacrifices and tough decisions along the way.
While you are likely still managing your regular daily responsibilities during the project, this could wreak havoc on the project timeline and outcome, and may sink your organization into a failed attempt at what could have otherwise been a truly positive transformational destiny.
If you are dedicated to making your business transformation a top priority, it will require a good deal of consistent effort and the right resources. You can either institute a formal approach for evaluating your project status and checking in with each team or each main aspect of the project, or you can simply take an hour or two per day for the next 1 to 2 weeks and apply the principles outlined above.
To deliver the best results and achieve your organization’s vision of success, work with experts and utilize the strengths of your team members from the beginning of your project.
Too many organizations wait until their project has been significantly derailed before they realize that something drastic needs to change. At that point, organizations are often thousands – sometimes millions – of dollars into the hole, simply because of a lack of proper assessment, misalignment, or insufficient accountability.
If your business transformation project is out of control, begin taking action on the 5 Point Program we’ve outlined above. Even if you are wildly off track in this moment, it is possible for you to get your project back on track and heading toward a triumphant finale. Taking the time to follow a proven process will allow your business to prevail against the odds.
Is your company struggling with implementing new technology that is intended to transform your business? Is your project or organization suffering? Contact us today to learn how we can help your business stay on time and on budget while implementing new technology or other transformational business initiatives.