During implementation the project becomes visible for the first time to people beyond the immediate project team. Your client becomes more vulnerable to criticism from others. Clients usually start to feel exposed and uncomfortable at this stage. You may find their behavior unpredictable as the stress increases. They may be inclined to backtrack or go lighter on previous decisions. When a choice exists they will often prefer to take the safe rather than the correct option.
This stage is a major determinant of client satisfaction. The client is feeling vulnerable. Your job is to keep things cool, stay ahead on the time, the budget and keep the project moving forward.
The advantages of smooth implementation are quite simply:
- The payoff for all the previous work
- Survival for you and your client
- Reputation building
How Can You Ensure a Smooth(er) Implementation?
First: Do not assume everything will go smoothly because it will not! Plan ahead, think about what could go wrong and have contingency plans and resources in place.
Second: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! If you don’t communicate, people will fear the worst.
Third: Build and Execute an Adoption Strategy
- Define the change in question
- Determine the implications
- Make certain you have found every end user
- Determine what aspects of their jobs will change and at which stage of implementation.
- Determine the most important improvements your client is looking to achieve
- Target training initiatives to focus on these areas
- Start awareness communication early and increase the tempo nearing implementation.
- Be straightforward in communication, don’t “candy-coat” the issues that will be faced.
- Generate Interest early and find some champions. (ie. Brown-bag lunch sessions of early releases)
- Answer “what’s in it for me?” for people directly affected
- Answer “what will this do for me and to me?”
- Shape positive attitudes
- What are the features that people will like
- Early Success stories
- Benefit Management
- Provide Trials and Demonstration opportunities
- Be Realistic about the rate of adoption and the client’s organizational ability to absorb the change.
Change is inevitable during implementation and with change there will be resistance. The key advice is to be proactive about it and therefore minimizing its impact on your project. You will spend less effort and time if you manage adoption proactively instead of managing resistance reactively.