Investing early means making the tough decisions to pull the finest and most experienced staff from the business to work on the project. For large-scale system implementations, this typically means pulling several full-time associates completely from their current positions for the duration of the project and acknowledging with leadership that doing so creates one or more holes in current business teams that must be filled. Many times, the high performers are excited to lead or participate in an opportunity to build new skills or gain leadership experience.
If resources are not full-time on the project, it can create bandwidth constraints as well as employee fatigue and discontent, which may jeopardize other simultaneous initiatives and/or current business performance. In order to mitigate some of the risk with leveraging top performers for project participation, we have found that committing to a personnel transition plan that circulates business associates through the program over the course of the project leads to several value-added benefits. The longer the program or initiative, the more opportunities there are for rotating resources and creating more advocates for the initiative’s future benefit case.
Injecting fresh thinking into the project team or cross-pollinating a “future state” mindset across the organization is the most obvious. While transitioning from operating in a day-to-day work environment into a project mid-stream takes effort from all sides, the simple fact of having a new set of eyes looking at the business issues often leads to removal of previously identified roadblocks.
Further, associates transitioning back into the business serve as project advocates by sharing details about the upcoming changes, and more importantly, the expected benefits. They become defacto “adoption leaders” in advance of the actual project going live. We have found that these associates are often successfully leveraged by business leadership to translate future state expectations back into the native current state language for the teams.
Project business associates should be expected to act as early change champions by delivering regular project updates back to the business, collecting feedback or questions for the project to address, and even testing out new concepts or mock-ups to gauge business acceptance.
The final benefit to a structured rotation program is the simple fact that a coordinated program actually exists and is a legitimate, leader-supported option for career progression. The existence of real examples for the company to see that people rotating into the project are welcomed back to the business with at a minimum, insider knowledge of future operating plans—or many times with new roles and responsibilities or even a promotion—is a strong selling point when mapping out a staffing strategy. Simply put, having associates willing to invest time and effort on key business initiatives should be valued by any organization, and they should be incentivized and rewarded accordingly.
At Parker Avery, we also believe that project associates from the business should remain co-located with the departments/organizations they are representing on the project. While most major IT infrastructure programs have a dedicated space for the project teams, many times this venue is located in the IT section of the building or campus, separated from the business both physically and consciously. While building a project team’s camaraderie is important, keeping business associates connected to the company has equally important benefits, such as staying in touch with new company issues that could impact design, remaining visible to leaders for adoption concerns, and soliciting feedback on project-based topics or issues. These are all valuable components of successful business participation achieved by having project team members staying close to their business “clients.”
Aside from physical location, project associates should be expected to act as early change champions by delivering regular project updates back to the business, collecting feedback or questions for the project team to address, and even testing out new concepts or mock-ups to gage business acceptance. These associates are a critical component of any initiative’s comprehensive change management strategy—from engagement to communication to adoption—and should be leveraged as such. Change management is a vital component of any major transformation initiative and a core competency of The Parker Avery Group