With the constant flood of webinar and presentation invites saturating our inboxes, I had the great fortune to run across a webinar presented by Liz Warner, Partner Enablement Manager at Sage.
Liz’s presentation specifically focused on Change Management – and for those unfamiliar with the term, Liz defines Change Management as: “The discipline that guides how we prepare, equip, and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes.”
Her refreshing perspectives got me thinking about the best recipe for success when it comes to changes necessary for software implementations for Sage 100, Sage Manufacturing, and Scanning solutions. In our collective experience, knowing what did NOT go well is extremely easy. We have all set out on the journey to purchase a big-ticket item - car, roof, vacation, ERP system, coffee maker (there are some pricey ones out there!) – only to feel like we came up short with the results of our investment. But when we have success with our investments - that becomes much more difficult to put our finger on HOW that happened and how we can duplicate the experience again.
Know Your Expectations
Measuring success will always boil down to one key point: Did we meet or exceed expectations? When entering into any new purchase, knowing what you want to gain from your investment is CRITICAL. If you have a problem, you want it solved. If you have a need, you want it met. At the end of the day, we need to KNOW both logically and emotionally that our decision was the best we could have made (Setting REALISTIC expectations, on the other hand, creates another layer to this equation, but that rabbit hole could take a lifetime to explore, and I only get about 1,000 words here!).
When venturing into any investment (money, time, resources, sleepless nights), understanding what success will look like is something we all build up in our minds, and that tantalizing picture is what drives us to push on. In our “company lives”, we use words like “Phases” and “Milestones” to give us the constant measuring stick to see if projects are on course to meet that ultimate picture of success. Clearly understanding our own expectations gives us the foundation, calibration tools, and signposts required to design the smoothest road to meet that success.
So, what derails us in this process? The road is clear – the tank is full – the AC/DC is blaring (sorry, that one might be just on my road trips) and we know what our destination will look like. What is missing that stops us from reaching a successful full project implementation?
Is Lightning Enough?
I had the amazing privilege of working with a dear friend of mine that I often refer to as the “Lightning in a Bottle”. Amazing ideas, big picture instincts, and the ability to problem solve outside the box like no other person I have known before, would be the shortlist of qualities I attribute to this individual. KNOWING the destination was second nature to him and why we worked so well together was simple: He knew WHERE we needed to end up - I had the map on HOW to get there.
The realization of a successful project is our ultimate destination, and the “lightning” gives the momentum and life to a project that is required to reach completion. However, the steps to get there and the tangible to-dos are also PARAMOUNT in this process. As mentioned, our “company lives” have us focusing on “Phases” and “Milestones” – but how many tasks does it take to get from Phase 1 to Phase 2? What are the necessary steps to meet Milestone 5? Almost every organization has that task-oriented, checklist-obsessed, can’t-sleep-at-night-until-it’s-done-right virtuoso. These are our “Navigators”. “Lightning” gives us the energy and direction for our projects and utilizing the “Navigator” is how we man the day-to-day responsibilities of actually getting us there.
Caution: Detour Ahead
The biggest derailment to success is always what we don’t see coming. When our controller suddenly needs to take a leave of absence, product line demand unexpectedly calls for running double shifts, or sales determines the immediate need to add website integration, our focus can be pulled from implementation tasks, and the impossible to predict situations can often leave us stuck and spinning our tires. Knowing that change and adaptation cannot truly be pre-built into our project tasks - how can we recover?
Most organizations will typically put a project on hold and sometimes that can be the right answer. However, I will make the challenge that before a project hold decision is made – Can expectations be tailored to meet these new situations? What portion of our project tasks are completed to date? Exactly how close are we to our original expected success?
Detours can certainly happen but changing directions or traffic slowing does not have to automatically equal stop. Revisiting and realigning our expectations with new information can give us the opportunity to move forward leveraging “lightning” and “navigators” to plot a new course without jeopardizing our already invested time.
As we continue cruising down the road toward that destination of successful implementations, I leave you with this:
- Harness your Lightning.
- Depend on your Navigators.
- And be comfortable adjusting to the Detours.
- The blasting of AC/DC is optional.