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Straight Talk on Project Management

Valentines

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This Valentines – 6 cupid arrows to get everyone to fall in love with your IT Project

So … you’re introducing change in an environment where people are resistant to change, and you think they’re just going to fall in love with it?

Get real!

Like love, business change through IT Projects can make an end-user’s tummy do somersaults! So, if you want them to be head over heels with your project, rather than feel turned upside down by it, here are six Cupid’s arrows to help spark the Proj-mance.  

1, Involve As Many As You Can, As Early As You Can

You brief your team on the benefits of a business change IT Project but do you ‘loop in’ everyone into the decision process? I’m not talking about holding a referendum every time you make a decision but sharing the benefits of change sooner rather than later allows end users to adapt mentally and emotionally! These are the folks who will be using the deliverables you’re working on daily! Briefing as much as you can, when you can, gives them time to come up with and ask any questions and develop a greater insight into the rationale behind the change.

When you share with the team and listen to and even act upon their feedback, they are more likely to embrace the change once it’s implemented.

2, Be Obsessive About Key Benefits

You are slogging away on this IT Project because of the measurable benefits it will bring to the business. When you can clearly articulate and demonstrate the benefits to the business and all involved in it, members of your whole team will better understand them – and engage with them.

A great example was a friend who last year was part of a team delivering an IT Project that would include time and motion monitoring – there was almost a riot! People often jump to the conclusion that this type of initiative is implemented purely so that bosses can snoop on them and track their every move. When it was pointed out that greater productivity could lead to higher revenue and in turn more overtime opportunities and higher bonuses, and even early finishes on a Friday if the work gets finished – the engagement rocketed.

3, Be A Communication Junkie!!

Communication is the key to any successful relationship; IT Project are intense relationships at times so communication is intensely important. Communicate with stakeholders regularly, at every level of your rollout. Be honest with sponsors when things don’t go to plan, no cover ups, no spin – just what’s happened and what you’re going to do about it.

Also, often businesses forget to communicate their expectations, both of the IT Project itself and what they expect from end users. Outlining that your IT Project is intended to make the operation run more efficiently or save money can foster a culture where those things are priorities – my BA friend just worked on a project designed to make the business more eco-friendly, communicating this huge ‘why’ led to a barrage of ideas and an organic desire across the business to achieve net-zero!

Amazing too, how simply explaining that you expect X, Y and Z from end users, will get them delivering X, Y and Z post-delivery.

4, Be Resource-FULL

Nothing will make everyone fall out of love with your IT Project quicker than under-resourcing it. So how can you mitigate against the talent shortages and skills gaps that we hear so much about? In times of perceived scarcity, gravitate towards more abundant resourcing models, like Project Management as a Service. PMaaS can widen your available talent market by delivering exactly the skills you need, when you need them and for how long you need to retain them!

The truth is, few people across the organisation will probably notice when your IT Project delivery is fully resourced but when it isn’t – that’s a different story! When your project is late because of illness or staff turnover, while you may get understanding and empathy for such unforeseen circumstances, you’ll still be held to account for missing a delivery date.

Stoneseed’s PMaaS commercial model is designed to flex with your needs and its turn-on, turn-off, turn-up, turn-down approach can help you fill any gaps you may encounter.        

5, Nail Your “After Sale” Service

Don’t skimp on training end users to boss your delivered IT Project. There’s little worse, as an employee, than being expected to ‘hit the ground running’ with a new system that they haven’t been properly trained on.

I recall, many years ago, a conversation in a pub with a frazzled mate who took a big gulp of his pint and sighed, “I was ready for that!” It was after day one of a new IT roll out that had changed how he did his job, but training had been limited to the basics and a handy manual that made War And Peace look like a pamphlet. I never forgot that impactful lesson.

Even when new software is easy to use, hands-on training can make a huge difference, even just half an hour instils confidence that you’ve got your end-user’s best interest at heart. Roping in senior management and any external users into the training session can create a shared experience and bond. Effectively, the more people you train well, the bigger your support team becomes – ie, rather than call you with a question team members can ask each other!

Once training is complete, then you can issue any training collateral, reference materials and user guides to the team.

You need the patience of a saint sometimes but nurturing those within your organisation affected by your IT Project will yield better “buy-in”. Change is uncomfortable, many would happily clock-in, do the same thing every day and then clock-out and go home. You’re asking a lot when you ask employees to change – make them feel like you’ve got their backs!  

6, Be A Feedback Womble

A PM friend Malc coined this phrase and I love it. Being a feedback Womble means ‘Hoovering’ up all available information about how your project is being received – good and bad. As Malc says, if someone has a view about his project, he’d rather hear it than have it ‘fester’ on a secret staff WhatsApp group.

Your organisation’s end-user feedback can be critical to the success of your project – and future projects. Often feedback is based on a misunderstanding, and you can only resolve that if you are aware of it. Occasionally, you get such priceless insight from an end-user that stops you in your tracks and ask – “Why didn’t we think of that?”   

Once the project is launched, collect feedback on a regular basis, and not just in a “Survey-Monkey- once-a-year” way, encourage feedback from your wider organisation and team.

In conclusion, like dogs aren’t just for Christmas, love for IT Projects isn’t just for Valentine’s Day! The business value you are delivering with your IT Project multiplies when everyone that needs to buy-in . Buys in. Give them every reason to engage!

If Cupid’s arrow number 4, resourcing, is an issue for you, get in touch with us Stoneseed and we can help.

Roses are red, Violets are blue, IT Projects need PMaaS, can’t wait to hear from you. (Ed’s note> This doesn’t scan, and violets are, well, violet. Apart from that though – lovely!)

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed