All projects involve risk. However, large business transformation projects seem to stumble more than most, with 50% failing to deliver on time and on budget. To combat this, IFS Safeguarding ensures best practices and mitigates risk throughout project delivery.
Here are eight important questions to ask at the start of any project to help you reduce risk and transform with confidence.
1. What are your project’s KPIs and objectives?
It’s all too easy to rush in and place all your focus on operational matters, but do your KPIs link to the strategic objectives of your business? Ask yourself, will this transformational project support the focus areas defined in our company report?
In practical terms, this means starting at the very top, with your strategic objectives, then working down through individual functional areas. Business Value Engineering supports this process as it facilitates a common vision and value system, stated clearly, so it means the same thing to all parties.
Quantifying the intended value of the software enables you to clearly communicate the project goals so you can align your stakeholders with the expected outcomes from the beginning.
2. Who is governing each stage of your project?
There are many things that can go wrong if project management isn’t up to scratch. Projects can go over time and over budget affecting the project team’s reputation and the investment can be reconsidered. Safeguarding protects the investment and enhances the chances of success.
We use a structured set of assessments for effective risk mitigation and better proactive guidance, improving the chances of project success. We benchmark against similar projects we’ve carried out with other customers, evaluate the types of resources and experts that you already have access to—and make a judgment of what’s realistic, what may need to be adjusted and then share that recommendation.
3. What are your project controls?
The biggest bump in the road is often an unexpected decision during implementation to change plans or to extend or lessen the project. It can be a challenge to manage everyone’s expectations when this happens. Safeguarding enables you to mitigate the impact of external challenges such as industry compliance, third-party solution interdependencies and economic downturns.
By having clear, transparent guidelines, agreed on expectations and defined milestones, you can ensure that the solution delivers value at regular intervals and the business stays engaged long-term to drive disruptive but transformational programs of work. Working with experts who have deep knowledge of the software and understand the business impact is key to handling this in an efficient and empathetic way.
4. How will you ensure your solution design meets your business specifications?
The key here is to have the right experts involved in the decision making. People who can bring the right industry, product, solution and functional experience are critical to the project’s success. This can be a big ask. How can you be sure that people who are making decisions that will influence your business performance over the next 10 to 15 years are the right people to make those calls?
Bringing in experts who can check the test approach, specification, readiness and acceptance criteria are valid enhances your ability to deliver a high-quality solution that fulfills business needs and requirements is a great place to start.
5. Do you have access to people with the skills and experience to develop and configure IFS software?
Sourcing talent with the right mix of skill sets isn’t easy. Your delivery team will need a specific understanding of how IFS code management works; how to customize, modify, maintain and own the code; and most importantly, an understanding of business processes.
Choosing the right mix of complementary skills—from certified IFS partners and IFS teams—can bring value to your program and ensure best practice delivery. IFS Safeguarding validates any perceived skill gaps so you can bring a specialist with the right skillset into the team. Which, will help you complete the project with a standard solution that is easy to maintain and upgrade.
6. How will you validate that your infrastructure is fit for purpose?
The two biggest challenges here are the initial sizing and understanding of the deployment model. For example, there may be a fundamental misunderstanding in the organization of what it means to have your application running in the cloud. Or if your company’s own hardware is used, there may be a lack of skill and understanding in-house to size it correctly, which may lead to issues later on.
Utilizing the right level of testing helps you identify and address any issues. For example, if hardware isn’t sized correctly and there isn’t an adequate testing approach, there is a risk that business transaction volumes will affect the system performance. Experienced system engineers and technical solution managers can deal with this very quickly, gauging requirements, validating testing approaches and thoroughly mitigating risk. It’s a quick win that is often overlooked and helps prevent unforeseen costs later in the project.
7. How will change management be handled?
Business acceptance is key to a successful project however change management is often overlooked. Many organizations struggle to define who is responsible for it and how best to deliver it. Getting the system up and running is just the beginning. You also need to ask: Are the business users prepared to work in a different way? Do they understand the benefit of this change and the value it will bring to them and the organization?
For some, it can be fairly easy. They log in to a different screen and get on with their day. For others, your project may fundamentally change what they do. Understanding the readiness of the organization to receive the result of the project and the impact on individual users, and effectively managing this change through the business, will enhance the chances of project success.
8. How will you manage system operations post go-live?
Project go-live is just the beginning. You need to ensure that the solution can deliver value to the business. Who will manage the systems day to day? When business requirements change, who will decide how the software should adapt to meet those changes and maximize the value it delivers. This is essential if you want the software you deploy to remain relevant. If your business software isn’t an enabler, it can become a simple facilitator, or worse still, a constraint.
Planning how to support operations post go-live ensures your solution will stay relevant.
Learn more about how safeguarding identifies risk and addresses it as early as possible at the IFS safeguarding page.
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