Project Management: 4 Characteristics of Transformation
Big companies face large transformation projects very rarely, but sometimes it can happen. In such projects, base systems and functions of the corporation will be changed significantly and across various locations.
The cost of large transformations (of this scale) can be hundreds of millions of dollars and can introduce a lot of risks, asking for full attention of the top management. Successful completion of the transformation is a self-satisfying and productive experience with high visibility attached. However it comes with a set of large programs that can get to closure in the initial phases after analysis, or drained budgets that can result in program cancellations.
Budgeting of large transformation programs is not straightforward. Many aspects should be considered to estimate the cost numbers, so the chance of errors is high. That is why, cost planning is crucial for a corporation that plans global transformation. If the cost is higher than the recognized benefits, a complete review of the program should be taken. If you have lack of money during a project, then you will not reach the goal. It will certainly have consequences in the organization.
You should follow a few steps that will help you to plan efficiently and stay on budget:
– Planning strategy – bottom up rather than top down. This will give a more realistic view and, you can later align with re-estimate when detailed requirements are known.
– Involve vendors who have already taken up similar programs, and use their expertise for costing. Publish a RFP – Request for Proposal, and responses to it will give an indication of the program’s cost.
The team is the most important part of the program. The right people in the right jobs will produce great results. Identifying and empowering these right people will ensure the program’s success.
Project team will produce results if good program management is in place at the beginning. You should have structured program governance with the right level of participation from IT and business. Their input is very important.
In a large transformation program, the teams should be large and diverse, and possess different skills and capabilities. There is a common problem that appears when clients distinguish between their own staff and vendors and take side. During the program, these issues should not be put in front of the team. They will distort open discussion, ownership of work and free flow of ideas.
You should define a lean team in the beginning, and do not rush to expand it. Have the burn rate low and enlarge the team when you have confirmation that all parameters for success are achieved and thought through properly.
Stakeholder management involves management of internal and external opinions, resources, groups, external vendors and third-party consultants, who may or may not be under the direct control of the project manager. The outcomes from all these groups will be an ultimate deliverable of this large transformation program.
Basic aspects of the stakeholder management are to identify all stakeholders, classify them based on influence and impact, and then manage them appropriately.
Transformation programs last for several years. That’s why the relationship with the stakeholders should be for a longer duration. For the purposes of the program, the working relationship with the active stakeholders must be as transparent and sincere as possible.
Vendor management will also have an important role in large programs, since the size of the program will force the organization to look for services of vendors. Establishing a good and fair working relationship with the vendors will enable the team members taking extra steps towards the project’s success.
You should not adopt any specific methodologies for execution, as each have their advantages and disadvantages, and the project management should decide which method is the best. Every methodology should take into account the skill sets of people involved and the willingness of the teams to perform the tasks. No matter the chosen methodology, management checkpoints are an integral part. For example, after the analysis, if the budget or outcome of the project will be as expected, then decide whether to increase or decrease the budget in the next phase. In some cases, perform the analysis and postpone the next phase – until more suitable conditions appear.
Requirements analysis will define how the solution will look like. For all uncertain activities that appear during requirements, it is better to start the design and development earlier. Project development should start with defining the most complex things first (if they are ready to be completed). Testing is a crucial aspect of any project as well, and for transformation project testing, there will be different rounds of testing. You should plan sufficient time for testing to enable a good quality product in the future.
Complexity of large projects requires that you pay great attention to the planning of the project, developing and producing the solution, choosing team members, and holding a high-performing team over the long run. All the standard phases of project management can be applied in the transformation programs. But together with them, additional attention and supervision are required for the success of the program.