Project management

February 24, 2020


What makes a Successful Project Implementation?

Project management implementations (processes and tools) can be tricky.  There is an opportunity to fail in many ways; due to methodology, processes, support/buy-in, the list is endless.  So, let’s rule out a few things that might come to mind about successful implementation.

It wasn’t the business they are in. 

I have worked with all kinds of industries and I have seen good and bad in every arena.

It wasn’t how well adopted their project management methodology is.

No, they still have much work to do to get buy-in and educate their users and their business.

It wasn’t the people.

Don’t get me wrong – great people make for a great week and that helps for a personally great implementation, but not professionally.

What exactly makes a successful project implementation?

Success, to the place I am just leaving, may not be realized for many months or even longer.  The implementation we did is only a “slice of life” and it is just the start of their journey.  (More about the Slice of Life in a future blog)

But what makes a great partner and PPM software tool is the ability to grow, mature, and realize your potential on that journey.  To me, the same things that made this a great initial implementation will serve them well while they are on their way.  There are many things, but here are the ones on my mind today.

Determination:  Ever watch the story of Rudy?  I recommend it if you haven’t.  Rudy had desire to accomplish something and nothing was going to hold him back.  It took him years, but he held on to the goal.  Well, this customer has that determination. The implementation team wants to provide value to their business, to see the implementation go well, and to mature as an organization and they realize it doesn’t end after processes or tools are in place.

Prepared:  You can want to do something all day but unless you take steps to accomplish the goal, it won’t be realized.  This customer has done many things to realize their goals and prepare the path to success.  They have incorporated a PMO into their business, established processes, brought in a great project management tool, and educated themselves to bring it together.  While they would be the first to tell you, they have only just started, I can tell you that their preparation has them going in the right direction.

Communications: Project management, methodology, and project-based work doesn’t happen in the PMO office or even in a tool.  The ability to communicate with each other is critical.  The PMO has to understand the departments, end-users, and the executives; but the reverse is also true.  The more two-way communications there is the better.  It opens the path to decisions.

Decision: To me, this is the success criteria this is most often missed.  If you can’t decide which direction to turn it means you are either on the same path you have been on or maybe stopped altogether.  I am even okay with turning the wrong direction – at least you will have ruled out one of the options and you now know to go another direction. This customer had tough decisions to make but they pulled together, discussed, and made those decisions.

I realized that what made this a successful implementation was not that the week is over, the tool is in place, or that I did a good job.  What made this successful and gratifying is that I can look at this organization and know that they are doing all the things they need to do to realize long-term success.

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