New IT projects are often born out of frustration with legacy systems, and a quest to get these in order.
However the decision has been made to start, next steps must include full support from stakeholders. This is because, when it comes to project implementation, your relationships are key.
Who are your stakeholders?
Once you’ve researched the platform you’d like to go for, a suitable partner and your implementation costs, you’ll need to gather the support of your end users, project managers and management. For a successful implementation, the people you’d need on board are:
- A project lead – i.e. a steering committee composed of senior leaders and management from CEOs, COOs and CFOs to VPs, directors and a project champion.
- Project managers – this may involve VPs and directors from IT, financial, production and facilities departments and could even be represented by a single project manager in a smaller organisation.
- Communicators – these are vital stakeholders responsible for delivering the before, during and after messaging.
- The IT team – their mission will be to consider the impact on the organisation’s IT infrastructure, its other systems, workflows, data management and its users – and they’ll be an integral part of the implementation methodology too.
- Super-users – the internal first-line support team, this group will keep the new platform running at optimum efficiency and are there to work alongside the vendor’s consultant, learning the system inside and out and then training the trainers.
Building stakeholder trust
In an ideal world, your project would move quickly and everyone would be on board. The reality can be somewhat different however, and move a little slower. But it’s worth following these basic principles to ensure you engage effectively from the start to finish in order to make this process as smooth as possible:
- Engage early – the earlier engagement takes place, the sooner you can address concerns and counteract any fear of change.
- Communicate and listen – your stakeholders are the people you’ll be relying on throughout the project lifecycle, so you need to understand their opinions and values.
- Speak the same language as your stakeholder groups – different departments use different jargon and require different information to get the job done.
- Take time to develop relationships – build relationships effectively now and you’ll increase everyone’s confidence, making problem-solving and decision-making a far less stressful experience.
- Set a clear rationale and be explicit about the benefits – everyone needs to know the whys and wherefores of the project. Set out the drivers and potential challenges, and explain how the business case sits within your corporate strategy.
- Plan, but keep it simple – planning carefully and taking a measured approach will always help to secure stakeholder engagement.
- Identify the risks and manage them carefully – if your project is going to deploy successfully, every risk has to be identified, controlled and managed meticulously.
- Be prepared to compromise – IT projects, like any other, are susceptible to change. So set a baseline for expectations and priorities, and remain flexible and ready to meet your stakeholders halfway if a credible argument for change arises.
Bringing your stakeholder community together
Regardless of the scale or scope of your proposed IT project, by the far the most important relationship you develop will be with the implementation consultant you appoint.
The partner who will take you through this process, from justification for change to platform choice. It is the job of your partner/implement consultant to drill down your specification, customising your options and ensuring your organisation is equipped to undergo the required implementation.
This means that whether you’re implementing a new platform or enhancing an existing one, your relationship with stakeholders and the confidence they’ll buy into it will largely be dependent on the experience and integrity of your consulting partner.
For a more detailed look read our knowledge leadership piece, Securing stakeholder buy-in is essential for IT project success.
If you’ve decided the time is right for change and you’re considering an ERP platform, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, please get in touch with our expert team.