Similar to the process of buying a house,
If you are like most people, making lists or following step-by-step instructions can make complicated tasks a lot easier. Consider all the details involved in buying and moving into a new house. Let’s be honest, it’s intimidating. Imagine taking this on without a well-planned and organized to-do list or an experienced realtor advising and keeping you on track.
While not every little detail makes it on your to-do list, within weeks the new house is purchased, the boxes are unpacked, and utilities are switched on. The move is done, and the family is settles in.
Most of us have a similar story and survived to talk about it. Now, consider planning and executing a department- or Agency-wide multi-stage transformation project lasting several months without a detailed and well-thought out plan or expert guidance. To say it would be daunting would be a gross understatement. But, with a “to-do” list and an advisor to keep your house in order the potential to implement a big change throughout your Agency is attainable.
Let’s go a little further and call the “to-do list” a transformation lifecycle with beginning, middle, and ending stages. Moving through stages of a transformation lifecycle minimizes the inherent risks involved in any significant initiative. Even better, the opportunity for completing a successful transformation project on-time and on-budget increases exponentially. Let’s unpack these six stages:
Strategy and Planning
Before you even consider buying a new home it’s always good practice to consult an expert. An experienced realtor will advise you throughout the process. They will ensure you get the right house for your needs and liaise with other parties to get the deal done. They work diligently on your behalf to earn your trust and referrals. Seems sensible enough.
The same holds true for your Agency’s planned initiative. Before putting pen to paper, engage a trusted advisor to collaborate and validate your business case goals to achieve positive business outcomes. Find someone with a successful track record working with similar agencies or implementing similar projects.
An accomplished advisor is an experienced communicator and guide for the project team as well as the Agency. They bring with them governance frameworks and methodologies that funnel decision-making and keep the project moving forward. A valuable and trusted advisor is capable and willing to have tough conversations and hold everyone, including the Agency, accountable. Remember, they are working and advocating on the Agency’s behalf.
Requirements and Assessments
You would not start packing up your belongings without first knowing why you need to move and what it entails. Neither should your Agency kick-off a transformation lifecycle effort without first determining what is driving the need for the initiative. Use this knowledge to define the project’s goals and objectives once the reason is identified.
Now you can determine what technology and staff resources the project requires and if you already have these in-house. The best way to gauge resources is to take a detailed and introspective look at your Agency’s current state using assessments. The results will underline gaps and highlight capabilities so the Agency can drive toward positive business outcomes.
Planning and Selection
Now that you are clear about why you want to move and what is involved, you can begin looking for the ideal place. This is when you list everything you want in a new home – all the check boxes.
The same is true for your transformation initiative. Everything you need to achieve, the check boxes, is identified in the project scope. This includes ensuring the project goals and objectives are aligned to the Agency’s business goals and objectives, because you would not ask to see a farmhouse in the middle of downtown.
Your realtor has already found a couple of properties. Now the hard part. Walk through each one and decide which is best suited to your needs. Similarly, this is the stage to review and select the best solution options to fit the Agency’s needs and choose highly skilled implementation partners to do the heavy lifting.
Implementation and Testing
You found it, the perfect house to call home! Not so fast. There are negotiations to be had, contracts to sign, inspections to pass, and so on before you start unpacking. Listen to your realtor and have your documents in order.
Likewise for your project. Remember, this is a transformation lifecycle with specific stages to follow. Throughout the implementation stage every team must complete their unique part, meeting deadlines and milestones along the way. Components are put together in specific order and tested as milestones are reached. Together, the project teams work through any issues that develop while also looking ahead to the next set of milestones. If any team is late delivering their section it slows progress and testing, and delays moving to the next stage of the transformation lifecycle. This is where your trusted advisor keeps the project rolling through accountability.
Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a new home. The paperwork was approved and now it is time to move everyone and everything in. Time to mingle and meet the neighbors, take the bus to a new school, find the nearest grocery store, and learn a new route to work. Everyone was excited about the move initially, but with all this change there is some grumbling.
You can expect some resistance with big changes. It does not matter if the new software is user-friendly and paperwork is a thing of the past. Staff members who were once excited are now a bit reluctant and even afraid of all the changes coming their way. You can overcome the resistance. Include organizational change management throughout the transformation lifecycle. Listen to their fears. Answer their questions. Give them tools to be successful. Help them adapt to the changes they experience, and resistance will fade.
Whew! Everyone is settled into their routines. The planning, house hunting, packing, and unpacking were all worth it. The house is now home. There will be regular maintenance and upkeep and the occasional upgrade, of course, but by and large things are good.
The Agency transformation project has met and even exceeded expectations and you have ensured sustainable success. The project’s heaving lifting is done. There will be the occasional effort to scale up or optimize. Employees and customers have adapted because the system works how it was designed. Things are steady.
Planning and executing a major transformation initiative are hugely more complex and intense than buying a home. Work your way methodically and systematically through the six stages of the transformation lifecycle. With a trusted advisor guiding you, it is realistic to emerge on the other side having achieved transformational business goals…until you need a bigger house.
Connect with MSS Business Transformation Advisory to learn how Leadership, Governance and Accountability best practices can ensure project success. Advisory@mssbta.com or 602-387-2100