Make Room For Project Management in Business Transformation
by Kelly Conway, PMP
Business transformation is the buzz. It is happening on a small scale and on a mega-scale in businesses we interact with every day. Industry experts abound in process reengineering. So, lest we lose our heads and believe that fundamentals aren’t necessary to success, here is some food for thought regarding how project management fundamentals can make a business transformation project a win for customers, employees and managers alike.
First – BOUND IT! That’s right. Give it a beginning and end. Define what success looks like. Business transformation projects fail because they hatch from a great idea that lacks definition and boundaries. During planning, another great idea hatches and the team marches off in another direction. Then an expert is hired and yet another idea changes the momentum. A savvy project manager will define, document and gain endorsement of the scope of the business transformation project up front and recognize when change occurs. Don’t get me wrong, business transformation projects aren’t the easiest to bound, and many project managers come from technically succinct backgrounds, so a recognition of the soft components of business transformation projects is essential. I’m talking about the critical part that Misty discussed above involving people, engagement, buy-in, culture and communication.
Second – MAP IT! Yes, we all want to know where we’re going and how we are going to get there, right? Project managers are trained experts at breaking down the steps of a complicated (and I may add, convoluted) project, whether bricks and mortar, advanced design, technology implementation, or…, you guessed it, business transformation project. This is where the subject matter experts come in. By the way, bring them on, all of them that you can afford, to provide their opinions of what needs to be done, but where corporate management fails is putting them in charge of the business transformation project. Subject matteproject processr experts are fantastic at painting the beautiful picture of how life will change at the end of the rainbow. They are typically lousy at implementation. Allow the project managers to manage the subject matter experts, not the other way around, and you have a chance to maintain the map to your desired destination.
Finally – ACKNOWLEDGE WHEN IT’S OVER (or kill it if it’s bad, but that is a different subject altogether). Business transformation projects have a tendency to evolve into the operational phase and not have a finite end. Know the end when it happens. With business transformation projects, there isn’t a ribbon cutting or a rocket launch, and there definitely won’t be a parade. Measure completion using boundaries and success factors defined, documented and endorsed in the beginning. Hand it off to a capable operations manager who will apply continuous improvement. I know that it was your baby as the project manager, but it will be ok. If a follow-on phase is starting, acknowledge that it is a new endeavor with its own criteria.
MSLLC brings the structure of project management (PM), project controls, and PM systems, including design, development, implementation, evaluation, analysis and training to the table, regardless of the type of project being managed. We recognize that for business process transformation projects, different challenges exist in determining and gaining endorsement for the scope and boundaries, identifying and engaging stakeholders as part of the implementation team, acknowledging and managing the cultural shift that will be necessary for new processes to be adopted, and preparing for frequent and open communication with employee groups and management throughout the course of the business transformation project.