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Key to a Successful Project Delivery: Starting the Project

In August last year, Jim Ritchey wrote about one of the keys to successful project delivery, selecting the right solution for your organization. As Jim discussed, the selection of the right solution does not guarantee the organization will see the desired benefits. I am sure many people have seen projects that started with a very focused selection process turn into projects of delays, overruns, and missed expectations.

Abstract Asphalted Road with Road Signs

Lost Along the Way
Having successfully turned many problem projects around for organizations, we have seen some trends emerge. While the projects are staffed with good people trying to successfully complete the project, the following challenges often arise:

  • The organizational goals of the initial solution selection are lost in the details of the implementation.
  • Project teams are focused on making the solution work for their organization, even though the goal of the project was to change the organization.
  • Lack of or ineffective decision-making slows progress and forces teams to try to make the solution work.
  • Issues and risks are not communicated or escalated until it is too late to take effective action.

Starting the Implementation is a Continuation of the Project Process
It is common for organizations to think of the implementation phase as the beginning of the project. In actuality, it is the continuation of the initial strategy and selection process. The implementation phase should use previous materials as reference upon which to build the plan. Recommendations include:

  • Ensuring the implementation is a continuation of and based on the goals and objectives of the organization.
  • Implementing communication tools to assist with onboarding all project resources, including vendor resources to ensure they understand the goals, scope, expected results, and success criteria.
  • Identifying and implementing a decision-making process. Be very clear on where each type of decision is made and the criteria for decisions. (For example, process decisions at the project team level, policy changes at the steering committee level, scope changes at an executive level.)
  • Revisiting goals, scope, expected results and success criteria regularly throughout the project. They are not something to be identified at the start and then forgotten. Everyone in the organization needs a clear understanding of the expected results to ensure their focus on meeting the expected results.

When turning around a problem project, assessing the effectiveness of the project team and communication is the starting point of getting the project back on track. When the project is started effectively, everyone on the project team understands and focuses on delivering the expected results. This understanding—and not the reassurance of technology vendors—provides organizations with their expected results.

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