Part 2: OBJECTIVES.
How do you know you’ve succeeded, if you don’t know what success looks like?
Maybe this is to help define failure, hopefully it’s to help recognise success, but either way it is vital to be clear about why you’re investing in this project, what you intend to achieve by implementing the new technology, and how “things will be different” afterwards. When you embark on the project you are going to need to engage disparate groups of people for a variety of reasons, so for each group you should identify why it’s good for them that the organisation is investing time and money in the project.
You will be asking a lot from the staff, the project team, the suppliers, your Trustees, members, donors, stakeholders, customers, committees, and you need to be able to describe the reasons you’re doing this in a way that everyone can relate to and buy in to. Key to the ability of everyone to understand the project, its purpose, how they can contribute and how they’ll benefit will be your commitment to:
4. Make a business case
You may or may not NEED to present a formal business case to the Board or the Trustees but it is still a valuable exercise to go through. The process of putting together a solid business case is invaluable to help develop a clear, organisation-wide view of why this investment is so important and why it is in everyone’s best interests.
Making a business case is about clearly aligning your project to the overall strategies and objectives that your organisation has in place. Part of doing this will require you to summarise the challenges you face and how you have determined that the project you’re initiating will help to address them.
A business case will also require you to consider what resources will be required from across the organisation, a CRM implementation project can require a sizeable financial investment but it places even more demands on your staff’s time and focus. By describing the level of input and impact the project requires, you’ll make yourself identify, highlight and emphasise the benefits and positive outcomes of the project.
5. Draw up and share clear, defined objectives
It can take some time to get together everything which you may need to do to enable you to turn an idea into a reality, when the idea is that some new technology may help you to address a pain point, and the reality is a notable technology project. It’s vital not to lose sight of the pain points and challenges which formed part of the initial motivation to seek improvements through new technology solutions, because addressing them is the objective of the project.
The project team is likely to be tasked with collating, drawing up and maybe agreeing the core objectives of the project but it’s important to encourage everyone to contribute their opinions on how the solution could help them, and to communicate clearly across the organisation what the final agreed objectives are. You should then make a point of referring back to them regularly, in project updates and certainly when an issue surfaces which puts the project at some risk.
A critical element of drawing up objectives for the project is discussing and agreeing the definition of success. You need to be able to recognise success, which means you have to define it in the first place. You have to set your goals and commit to them being the measure by which your project will be judged. They have to be shared and, when achieved, they have to be celebrated!
6. Focus on what you want out of the system
There’s lots of technology available now which is good at capturing and storing data, but increasingly the value and benefits come equally from what the system can do for itself (workflow automation) and what the system can tell you (business intelligence). That’s not to say that you don’t need to consider how you can capture and find information, but it’s to note that our ability to report and analyse is increasingly important and can sometimes be overlooked or taken for granted.
We’ve run workshops before where we’ve recommended a session for the team to focus on what they want out of the system, and we’ve encountered some negativity around that idea. On exploring this deeper, the negative reactions are based on an interpretation that focusing on reporting and analysis reflects a pre-conception that technology projects are all about providing better reporting to “management” rather than trying to improve the lot of administrative teams and knowledge workers.
This isn’t true at all, one of the reasons for considering outputs of the system is that if the system can provide better information, more easily, to staff then their jobs become easier and they’ll invest time in capturing data into the system consistently and reliably. In turn this can build a cycle whereby the system starts to be seen as “the place to find what you need”, which makes it the place that staff go to, which makes it the place that staff update with their knowledge, which makes it the valuable knowledge base you want it to be.
Operational activity, captured consistently, provides insight into what the organisation and its stakeholders and audiences, are doing, which feeds organisational knowledge, which in turn enables managers to make better decisions – which I hope is one of the objectives of your project.
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