20 Feb Deliver projects with confidence in 2019
The pace of change in the financial services industry is fast and accelerating. We want to deliver new tools to improve efficiency and offer new products to stay competitive. Certainly there are some project delivery activities that can be streamlined for efficiency’s sake. Often firms will try to cut corners in order to deliver in a timely manner, only to realize that things have gone awry.
The following are five key project delivery activities that absolutely must be adhered to in order to deliver with quality and confidence:
Agree on business objectives
You’ve heard it all before: “Time vs. scope vs. quality,” “Impact to people, process, and technology,” “Business case expectations.” The expectations for all of these areas are important to determine, document, and share at the onset of a project. If the team responsible to deliver does not have a solid feel for what levers are available for them to push and pull, they won’t be able to proactively maneuver through challenges that are sure to arise. Discuss what is “must have” and what items are negotiable. Take that extra time to communicate expectations to all stakeholders at the start, in order to maximize success.
Document detailed requirements
A crucial step in project delivery is documentation. This exercise forces participants to consider all scenarios, validate that target state processes are complete and well understood, and ensure that both “good order” and exceptions are managed per expectations. This is the genesis of strong and reliable test cases, whatever form requirements take with various delivery approaches; it is the foundation of the project.
Build in delivery phases
Time to market is important, and projects don’t have to be one-and-done. Consider if logical phases can speed up delivery. If a breadcrumb approach to delivery can provide incremental value without skyrocketing costs, do it! That value can be testing technical assumptions or building foundational data components, but it can also include delivering core functions to the end user, which can be well received if communicated with transparency. The key is to always deliver incremental value and to have a clear view of how and when these incremental deliverables will converge into a solid outcome. It is important to be realistic and check in to make sure this continues to remain true. Otherwise, your project teams will be busy but won’t be delivering on the agreed-upon business case.
Identify a decision maker
Let them make decisions and make it their job to engage stakeholders, and get them on board. Second guessing and overriding decisions only create spin. If you don’t trust the decision maker, you have the wrong person! Use a steering committee to keep senior stakeholders in the know – to seek commitment and support.
Raise a flag
Speak up when deadlines shift due to competing priorities. Most of us are over-committed to deliver in our roles. When this impacts project timelines, it must be called out. The purpose is not to point fingers, but to re-assess the relative importance of people’s time and to help senior management consider if the project is truly worthy of attention or if it must go on the back burner for a while until resources free up. Nothing is worse than keeping delays quiet, to the point of sharing only when it is too late. The ongoing costs of committed project resources “waiting” to move on often get blamed.
Projects that deliver successfully ensure that these decisions, tools, and communications are well understood and agreed to. If everyone is on the same page, you can minimize surprises, avoid rework, and deliver with the confidence that comes with an “eyes wide open” approach.