The importance of options

My girlfriend always laughs at me when I introduce options appraisal into the daily conversation: “What shall we do with our Saturday?” “Well, option A, we could…Then option B, we could” 

Sad case as I am, I own this quirk in character, 100%.

I am truly a consultant for four years now, before that working on a somewhat consultancy basis inside organisations – on projects, programmes, PMO and change. 

I have always enjoyed discussing options. It is the language of senior leadership. 

I would certainly admit to challenges. At times in the course of my daily work, I may introduce the full gamut of selection criteria where a simple discussion of options and risks would suffice. 

I have also found myself in the heady world of anecdotal discussion where a detailed options appraisal and firm evidence of the value of a single recommendation would have been more fitting.  

Largely, as with many things, I seek to find with clients the balance of head and heart. 

As a reassurance, I talk in the above scenarios about day-to-day interactions on decision making. Hart Square’s methodology relies on data, detail, and evidence. 

Business cases always include options, as you would expect, with detailed cost estimates, risks and descriptions of expected benefits. 

Partner selection involves evaluation of both selection criteria provided by clients and specific fit-gap analysis against the requirements of the proposal. 

We do not make the decisions and clients vary in terms of what matters most in a bid, yet the underlying process is scientific.  

Implementation templates, especially those for planning, risk management and change control are designed to make visible and possible the process of mature project decision making. 

I wrote a recent piece about how we often operate as a client’s Critical Friend. In my mind, we earn our grain most in our support on options, choices and decision making. 

I suppose the message of this blog is that, really. 

These are really challenging, technical matters even for a group of seasoned, talented executives or senior management leaders. We are here to help. 

This is a reminder to the sector that we understand our place in this setting. It is constantly on our minds; a reminder to Hart Square that this focus, this diligence should never leave our minds; a reminder to us all how brave and exciting this process is if it encourages openness.  

There will always be options too radical or risky or early for an organisation to approve; however, in our processes, you go there, these options are considered. 

Even if a final decision leans toward pragmatism, the energy of your greatest ambitions is not lost. The first practical steps are lit by that ambition to move forward and embrace new horizons. 

Embracing options allows us to at least consider the outside bet. Given a kind hearing, it may be the right choice, leading to the greatest change, delivering the deepest positive impact for your cause.


Are you looking for expert guidance on your digital project? Contact us to find out how we can help you. 

A round-up of Hart Square Training Programme

In 2021, our experts here at Hart Square delivered two series of the Hart Square Training Programme: How to deliver successful projects. We created the training programme exclusively for non-profit organisations, to contribute to building digital and change capability.

Discover the impact of the Hart Square Training Programme in the infographic below.

Are you looking to deliver a successful digital project in your organisation? Attend our free upcoming webinars to hear from experts from across the sector as well as get guidance from the Hart Square Team. Discover all upcoming events

Ep8. What makes a good organisational strategy? With Helen, Matt and Andrew

In this episode, our Senior Business Change consultants Helen, Matt and Andrew explore what should and should not be included in an organisational strategy as well as how you get buy-in and how you can keep your strategy it relevant.

Ep7. What can clients do to contribute to project success? with Lauren and Billy

Lauren and Billy, Business Change Consultants here at Hart Square discuss the role of clients in creating a successful project. They highlight the importance of clarity, communication, prioritisation and getting the right project team in place.

Ep6. How to build a successful project team with Joyce & Oksana

Joyce and Oksana, Business Consultant and Practice Manager at Hart Square discuss why people are the key to delivering successful projects and explore how to build a successful project team. They also discuss the importance of considering the different organisational cultures which come together in a project team, to ensure you can achieve success.

Key considerations for a successful system implementation

Being prepared for a system implementation is key for overall project success. This stage will determine whether your project will stay on track and you will be able to realise the benefits of the new system. From the numerous implementations we have been a part of, here are the key considerations we have identified to achieve a successful systems implementation. 

Download the Key considerations for a successful system implementation infographic

Planning resources  

The balance of work across a project lifetime is significant. Projects require considerable resources – the highest risk to success is to underestimate this. 

Vital documents 

There are a variety of essential documents which are vital tools to ensure your project remains on track. These include communication reports as well as status reports.  

Data migration  

We see many CRM implementation projects taking longer than they should because the data isn’t ready. Clean, de-dupe, consolidate and rationalise your data before moving it to your new system. This takes time so get a head start on this process early.  

Communication with your technology partner  

Having clear and honest communication with your technology partner is vital to success. Ensure you each have clearly established roles and responsibilities and have agreed targets, including KPI’s. 

Testing the system 

The purpose of testing is to verify the system. It ensures the system meets the requirements that guided its design and development and performs its functions within an acceptable time. To help guide you through the testing phase, you should establish a clear test plan.  

Training your team 

Training is a key element in delivering successful implementations. It is important to deliver training which engages individuals and motivates them to embrace the change.  

Planning your go-live 

It’s important to consider and plan your go-live as there will inevitably be an increased workload during the change. You must plan resources accordingly and only go-live when key resources are available. 

If you would like to know more about how to achieve a successful systems implementation, join us for Module 5 of the Hart Square Training Programme, where we will provide you with the insight, tools and templates to achieve success.  

Ep5. What does digital transformation really mean for a non-profit? With Helen, Matt & Andrew

Helen, Matt and Andrew, Senior Business Change Consultants at Hart Square explore the term ‘digital transformation’ what it encompasses and whether it is just a buzzword trend or if it is something we all need to be thinking about to adapt and keep pace with the digital world.

7 top tips for Preparing for Go-Live

The go-live date is the one eagerly anticipated date everyone in the project works hard towards. However, there are many go-live activities that need careful planning and preparation to ensure it is a success.

Following the numerous go-live days we have supported, we have gathered our 7 top tips for preparing for go-live.

Download the 7 top tips for preparing for go-live infographic

1. Share supporting resources:  

  • Ensure all project stakeholders have the resources to support go-live including any 3rd parties affected by the go-live date   
  • And get their time booked in and protected 

2. Plan clear roles and responsibilities:  

  • Have clear roles & responsibilities for your project team on the day of Go-Live 
  • And make sure these are published so everyone affected by the go-live knows who’s doing what 

3. Agree communication channels:  

  • Agree on suitable communications channels & frequencies to update each stakeholder group on the Go-Live day 
  • And allocate one person whose first priority is to respond to inbound communications 

4. Complete checklist:  

  • Ensure you have completed a pre go-live checklist of all key actions which is signed off before the go-live is committed to 
  • And equally, draw up a clear post go-live checklist for the Project team to sign off as agreement that the go-live is secure and robust 

5. Agree amendments 

  • Agree with the technology partners a timeline for any post go-live amendments to be completed from the testing phase 
  • And ensure everyone is clear on whether this is within the agreed budget or go-live or additional to it 

6. Plan final meeting and agree backup plans:  

  • Schedule in a final no/go meeting on the day of Go-Live with everyone present and an agreed set of decision criteria to assess 
  • And make sure you have backup plans to allow for every scenario from approving go-live to executing a rollback, with interim options for extending the go-live period, again based on clear milestones and criteria 

7. Agree post go-live support:  

  • Agree on a period of intense post go-live support with all technology partners  
  • And make sure all system users are expecting a period of disruption while the system beds in 

For further guidance on going live with your technology project, attend our upcoming wbinar on ‘Life after go-live – what about the benefits‘ on 9 December at 9:30am. 

Ep 4. What can technology really enable for a non-profit? With Ian and Billy

In this episode, Ian and Billy, Business Change Consultants at Hart Square, dive into what technology can really enable for charities and membership organisations. They explore the benefits that new technology can provide both internally to the organisation but also externally to their members, supporters and donors.

6 steps to begin your digital transformation journey

Digital transformation is by no means an easy task. The term transformation itself is defined as a marked or complete change. Small changes can often be hard to implement so where do you begin when it comes to a transformation?  

Here at Hart Square, we have spent the last 11 years supporting over 200 memberships organisations, charities and trade associations achieve their digital ambitions. Over this time, we have gathered a wealth of experience and knowledge on digital transformation projects and have seen that for many organisations it can be difficult to know exactly where to startBased on our experience then, we wanted to share with you our 6 steps to begin your digital transformation journey.  

Step 1: Identify what digital transformation will mean to your organisation

It is important to note that digital transformation will look different for every organisation. This being the case, it is essential that you identify what a transformation could look like for you.  

Firstly, analyse and describe the challenges you are facing. What are the root causes of these problems?  

Alongside identifying challenges, it is important to have a vision for the future. What are the strategic aims of your organisation?  

Step 2: Analyse your current capabilities

Once you understand your core challenges and have a vision for what you want to become, it is important to examine your current ways of working and analyse what technologies are used across your organisation.  

Understanding where you are now, what you’re currently capable of, and where you’re significantly inhibited, will allow you to identify the gaps and opportunities which digital transformation can address for you 

This will prove valuable throughout the decision-making process, for example when prioritising between initiatives which are competing for funding or resources, and put you in the best position for project success.  

Step 3: Explore how digital can enable your change

Once you have identified your strategic aims and examined your current capabilities, you now are in the best position to explore how digital can enable your change.   

At a high level, this involves exploring the technology investment options that would help you achieve your strategic aims. This can include decommissioning and replacing current technologies but equally can involve enhancing your current technology through upgrades, integrations, additional features, and by training employees.  

Step 4: Get buy-in

To get your programme started and funded, it is crucial to get executive buy-in. Creating a successful business case will answer executives’ questions on the programme purpose, the benefits and resources required as well as timelines. The business case will support decision-making by providing clarity on options, costs and impact 

To achieve buy in, it is crucial to determine and communicate what is the best use of budgets and resources to create the most enabled versions of yourselves.  

Step 5: Create a roadmap

Creating a roadmap is an essential step to ensure your programme has a flow and remains on track. Through effective planning and mapping the key stages to achieve your digital ambitions, you can prioritise projects within a timeline to complete the programme. It also allows your teams to remain accountable and aligned to the overall programme vision. 

However, it is worth noting that a digital transformation programme can sometimes take years to complete. Therefore, the roadmap that you create at the beginninwill need review, and may need adjusting, some time into the programme, allowing you to take advantage of new opportunities and to mitigate risks.  

Step 6: Gather resources and expertise

Creating change on any scale is heavily dependent on the availability and skillset of your resources. Do not underestimate the importance of creating the right team to deliver your transformation programmeEnsuring your internal team have the right skills as well as capacity to deliver the projects, is essential to keep the programme moving forward and preventing burnout of your staff. 

Where your team are expected to deliver the programme alongside their existing roles, you need to invest in back-filling day jobs for core programme and project leads, and in supplementing key business teams. 

Alongside your internal team, bringing in external support can provide expertise and guidance on best practices and approaches, and well as valuable insight into how to navigate the tech landscape. This can help put your programme in the best position for success.   


Are you looking to get started on your digital transformation journey?

Get in touch to find out how we can help you achieve your digital ambitions