You’ve just purchased a plane ticket to Hawaii! You’ve never been there before, but you’ve heard so much about it. You have a tight window to squeeze in everything you’ve dreamed of doing. You want to snorkel, surf, catch a sunset, and drink a few Mai Tais at a Luau. You do your homework, buy tickets in advance, and embark on the time of your life. You wouldn’t want your dream vacation left up to chance, so why would you approach your financial institution’s brand new software implementation without a plan?
With any type of project whether it be business, leisure, or work around the house – organization and project management is key. Whether your project is a one day project or a one year project the success of that project depends on the scope of work, the expectations set up front, and the dedication of the project team sticking to that scope and working together toward a common goal. In the case of a managed software implementation, a strong project manager from the vendor can help keep the teams in line when the project experiences scope creep or delays. The most successful projects that I’ve seen occur when the financial institution also has a dedicated project manager to help keep their internal team on track. Having this dedicated project manager from the beginning allows the pace of the project to be set and establishes a single point of ownership. A dedicated project manager within the financial institution allows for better communication with individual key stakeholders and helps bridge that gap between those stakeholders and the business owners of the project. This layer of communication aids in making critical project decisions quickly and ensures any project impacts based on these decisions are outlined clearly to the project team. Staying on track, and sticking to scope, is crucial and the benefits of having a dedicated project manager cannot be outweighed.
Outside of normal day-to-day project work and project management, there are some intangibles that cannot be measured or defined, but you’d be surprised at how important they are to the success of a project. I see teamwork and a positive mindset as two of the most integral pieces of a successful project. Throughout the duration of a project, it’s easy for teams to become negative, get down, lose track of the end goal, or start playing the blame game. The project manager must always maintain a positive outlook and encourage all team members to work together and work to their strengths in order to help keep the project moving. No matter how strong a team is and how much you’ve prepared for a project, if negativity and doubt starts to sneak in you’ll start to see the team and the project start to suffer. Things will never go 100% according to plan. No matter how strong a team is or how disciplined the project is being run, Murphy’s Law will always seem to find a way to prove itself true. When that happens, the project management team must come together to promote positivity and come up with a plan to get things back on track. The best way to make this happen is with positivity and communication amongst the team.
Now that you’ve managed to keep things on track during your new software implementation, everyone is happy from the project sponsors down to the day-to-day end users. You’re finally ready to go live! To use another analogy here, let’s think about a wedding. A wedding is a lot like any other project. There are two teams coming together to complete a goal. Now imagine you’re part of a wedding and you skip the most important part of preparation – the rehearsal! When it’s your turn to walk down the aisle, all eyes are on you, and you mess it up! All of this could have been prevented if you would have just attended that rehearsal. Now think of your software implementation; you’d feel a lot better about your big day if you did a practice run first right? These “mocks”, as we like to call them, are crucial to the success of your go-live. They allow you to get a feel for exact timing of the go-live and also give you an opportunity to sniff out any issues in your planning thus far. No matter what challenges were encountered during a project, when the live date is a success everyone is happy and relieved. Even if you don’t learn anything new you’ll at least get a better night’s sleep before the big day!
When you have a strong project team that prepares, sticks to the plan, trusts the process, and stays dedicated to the project, you will see success. Doing your homework both ahead of the project and in the early phases of the project are going to help you organize your team and maximize efficiencies during the project. As you stay disciplined throughout the project and successfully complete your mocks or rehearsals, you will experience success as we have on so many projects before. Your live date will look like a mission control room, launching you forward into the next phase of productivity!