The Second Step – Initiate the Project by Developing Your Project Plan and Holding a Kick-Off Meeting

In our series about the software selection process we have already discussed the contracts or agreements that you should use with any consultant that you hire to assist in the process.

Today we are going to talk about the steps to initiate the process.

In this phase you will create the project plan and present the project to everybody that could be touched by it. Let’s start by talking about those “everybodies” — also known as the stakeholders.

Stakeholder Identification

This is a very critical step, and unfortunately it’s often either missed or taken very lightly. It’s important to identify everyone that might be affected in any way by the new software. That’s right, not only the decision makers but also those that will actually use the new software–and those that send data to it or receive data or reports from it.

It’s also very important that everyone in your organization not only knows about the project but has a stake in the successful roll-out of the new software. Key stakeholders need to be involved at every stage to ensure ownership and acceptance of the solution.

If you have buy-in on the new solution early in the process, then when things start getting a little complicated –and believe me, they will – you won’t have people rehashing decision points, second guessing your requirements and product options, or even saying “this was not my choice.”

A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

 

Let the process set you free.

This mantra should be repeated over and over again during the life of the project–from initiation all the way to the end when the project is closed and the lessons learned are discussed and written down.

Using a proven process increases success rates. With a good plan, stakeholder participation can be maximized and project reviews carried out at appropriate times. Key project components and dependent tasks will be completed correctly the first time.

This does not imply that a one-size-fits-all approach is possible, because it isn’t! The project plan must be tailored to the personnel, organizational skills and technology of your company–and to the scope, cost, and time frame of your software implementation project.

The Project Plan

To enable a process that can set you free, the project must be clearly defined, communicated, and able to support honest status and issue reporting.

The project plan is used to document timeline, key dates, dependent steps, process flows, use of resources, responsible parties, and all the other myriad details involved in the execution of the project. The project plan is created at the beginning of the project and is agreed to by all stakeholders.

Each task in the project plan must be assigned to a person and the responsibilities related to that task agreed on with that person. All task-holders agree to have the required resources available for the time specified in the plan and to commit the time required to complete the given tasks.

Keeping things on track requires periodic status meetings with the sponsor and key stakeholders. At these meetings, the project management team should communicate progress and any deviations from the timeline.

The Kickoff Meeting

Once the plan is ready, it needs to be communicated to the stakeholders in a meeting. This, for obvious reasons, is called the kickoff meeting.

This meeting is so important as it really sets the stage — and gets everyone on the same page. All the “everybodies” are briefed on the timeline and their role in making sure the project is successful. This is why it’s so critical to have the leadership team and representatives from all identified stakeholder groups in the meeting.

During the kickoff meeting, the group will discuss the objective, plans, goals, resources needed and overall project plan. Since everyone is tuned in, any project challenges identified can be discussed and addressed to help prepare for the project’s execution.

It should also be made clear that if anyone has any concerns about any part of the project at any time then those concerns should be raised as soon as possible.

If the plan gets a thumbs up from everyone involved, then the project is good to go!

At Roghnu we have 10+ years’ experience in selecting software, we can help you identify your stakeholders, create your unique project plan and assist you during the complete process. Contact us, so we can tell you the stories of the many successful software selection projects that followed a good plan.

Tune in next time when we  talk about the process of Requirements Gathering. Make sure you don’t miss it!

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