HOW IGNORING THE PROCESS TO IMPLEMENT CHANGE REDUCES BUSINESS BENEFITS

Over the past couple of years, working in Project Management which I really love, (Yes I love projects! Bite Me!) I have found quite a low value and respect for following the right sequence of steps, whether agile or waterfall (PM methodologies) to get to the end goal of attaining intended business benefits like for example, an increase in operational efficiency or an increase in business revenue.

My personal findings

  • When the structured conversational and thought process required for mapping out requirements is skipped, you prolong the phase of clarifying the project requirements. This happens especially with resources that require structured engagement to communicate their feedback or produce deliverables e.g. Business Analysts (BA), Technical Leads, Test Leads and Business Leads.

  • When the analysis and design stage of a project is either rushed or poorly done, you miss out requirements and end up with tons of change requests later on in the project e.g. a BA should not be producing the Solution Design for a project, for the right output, that would be the role of a Solution Architect or a Technical Lead. Usually, this results in resource and design costs not covered in the budget estimated for the project.

  • Where a step in a process is missed, e.g. there is no design done but yet development is required to begin with only high-level business requirements, this leads to an arduous & flawed development and test phase as the significant input required to generate the right output is missing. Using an agile framework is a way people try to navigate this, but even in an agile delivery framework, a visual mock-up and functional spec is expedient for the development of the product to be right.

  • When the detailed design phase or the right sequence of testing before a live release is overlooked, you will usually get poor quality performance results, as a result of tons of bugs and defects in testing or live.

  • Where each project deliverable is not taken through the right review and approval process, the project fails quality and usually ends up with poor quality deliverables. Yikes!!!

 

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Overall, with more efforts spent on fixing the mistakes made, the project fails delivery on Time, control is lost on Cost as the baseline is usually exceeded when delivery is delayed or Change requests arise, the project fails on Scope as a result of Change Requests, and consequently the project fails on Quality most times out of the pressure to still deliver in time in spite of new requirements and cost constraint; All the 4 project KPIs of Project Management, we need to keep controlled.

 

So how can we avoid the pitfalls above, give our projects a higher chance of a successful implementation and better save our planned business benefits?

 

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Research Well: No project should begin without a well-researched and documented Business Case, except where the project is a proof of concept to actually build the Business Case. The Business Case serves as the key input document for the project’s Requirements Gathering and Design stage, it informs the project team of;

  • The aim of the project

  • Project outputs required

  • Resourcing requirements

  • Estimated cost

  • The Implementation timeline required

  • Known risks, assumptions, and dependencies, and

  • Expected Business Benefits.

Having Business SMEs, Technical Leads, a BA and a PM involved in the build of the Business Case gives the project a better full proof Business case to build on. Of course, since the Business Case is a high-level document it will not encapsulate the detailed design or plan needed for the project but having a well-researched and documented Business Case will serve as a strong foundation for the project and will aid the project team to better understand and plan the project deliverables required.

 

Document everything! : This does not refer to the excessive documentation of every word spoken in project meetings, But the documentation of documents that guide the project team on the implementation requirements of the project and documents that inform business decisions. Especially in the Analysis and Design stage of a project, which produces the blueprint of the project’s building blocks, conducting Requirements Workshops and review meetings with the right Technical resources and Business SMEs (preferably at the same time as it saves a lot of time to reach the final conclusion) produces clearer outcomes and decisions on the direction of the project.

Even in an agile framework, it would be difficult to map out a product backlog without a visual mock-up, process flow maps, blueprints or design documents to refer to.

In my personal experience, I have found a lot of information get lost in translation or fail to be communicated when the business requirements, process maps, technical designs, or the project plan is not documented for proper reference and review. This happens quite often with requirements and design documents that are the key building blocks for a project.

 

Do not incapacitate your company resource capacity: Efficient and effective resource planning is expedient for implementing change. Individuals can handle multiple priorities (to a reasonable! extent) but for the best output, it is not advisable to have the same individuals handling multiple roles at the same time. Although, this can be subject to the individual in question, as very organized and fast-paced people can handle dual responsibilities.

 

Do not be in a hurry to test before you build: There is no way to enjoy living in a house without a sturdy roof over the structure of the building, likewise it is better to build properly to enable fewer defects in testing. Running the Build & Test stage of a project in an agile framework gives quicker visibility of the product and in return improves the development quality of the product or service.

 

Ensure Quality Assurance before Implementation: Whether the Business is embarking on an Infrastructure project, a Business Process Improvement project or a Digital Transformation project, ensuring the product or service works well in a test environment and is tested with a rational sample size, by the right Technical and Business SMEs better ensures a good performance of the product or service when implemented to a live audience.

To ensure Quality Assurance, following the Project Governance framework and Project Delivery framework is key, within this, you are able to ensure the required project deliverables are produced, and the deliverables reviewed and approved by the right Technical SMEs and Business Stakeholders; Also adds a good control to change requests.

 

Strong Project Management:  Every item mentioned so far is all well and good, but without a strong coordinator, melding all the pieces together, monitoring and moving the project towards its end goal through the appropriate delivery process and means like effective communication and risk management, no project will ever meet its objectives and achieve the business benefits intended.

To keep it short and simple,

 

“PROCESS ADHERENCE + STRONG PM = QUALITY OUTCOMES & TIMELY BUSINESS VALUE”

 

Yes, one could argue this is not the perfect equation, but overall this is a good recipe for implementing change efficiently. If taken on-board, this will help your company have clearer expectations of business benefits, and the right systems in place to enable achievements.

What would you say is a good recipe for implementing change and ensuring business benefits?