In our Ask the Experts series, Matt Dunphy, Consultant at Hart Square shares his insights after his first full year in the role; the questions clients ask and the key things that make a successful project.

Questions I always get asked

I’ve been working as a consultant at Hart Square for just over a year now, after many years working for healthcare organisations and charities as well as delivering CRM projects elsewhere. In the last year I’ve worked on large and small projects, but no matter what the scale of the project, I always get asked about the most important elements to achieve a good project (and avoid a bad one).

Tips and tricks when starting a project

Start before you start! It may sound strange yet good foundations are simply vital and many aspects of the project should be defined before a project kicks off with the whole team:

  • the project structure
  • its governance
  • who likely team members will be and board representatives
  • crucially who the project will be sponsored and championed by
  • then key assumptions about how the project will be delivered and what it aims to achieve.

A business case will start this process and then all planning for an implementation project that can be done alongside a requirements exercise and a protective vendor selection is of vital use to be in the right place on that date when you get everyone in a room and say ‘let’s begin’.

Key questions at the start of implementation

There will be questions and answers before an implementation kicks off that are really worth addressing. These should also be communicated to team members and staff to get buy in and build a collective understanding of what an implementation will deliver.

For me, two items stick in the mind of particular importance for implementation projects at the start:

  • what are the tolerances of this implementation – i.e. what may be the acceptable time, cost or scope decisions which may be made by your board in the event the project encounters major issues or a need for changes?
  • how exactly will we know we have succeeded upon or after delivery of the implementation project – what are the project’s measurable outputs basically and how and when will we measure our success against these deliverables?

How to run a successful project

Preparation is key. Communication as required to everyone is paramount. And sustainable progress at the right pace – especially if it is a delivery of 12 months or more – is one of the ways you will ensure you get there successfully. Finally transparency – if there is an issue, say so and record it, and manage it, plus be honest about major project risks and how to manage them.

Working with suppliers

In most Hart Square implementation projects, we work to create one team – the client, the supplier (technology provider) and Hart Square. Ensuring this holds true through an implementation is the successful way to work with suppliers for mutual benefit. Most of all for Hart Square, this is the best way to ensure success for the client and deliver what their organisation needs and is trying to achieve.

One of our key roles is to be the sounding board for the supplier, to help them think through how they will deliver a project for a client. Often Hart Square is on-board first and has worked over many months with a client before an implementation with a supplier begins. That gives us a great insight into how a client organisation operates, and (hopefully!) goodwill to share with suppliers about what works and what doesn’t in that organisation, especially around how change affects the organisation and how best to negotiate the management of this change.

Do you have a specific question?

These are just some of the insights I have gathered in my first year as a consultant, and I am learning things every day. If you have any specific queries, please email