Sounds simple enough but we all know that in the heat of things people get dragged down into the weeds and lose the 30,000 foot view.
Business cases change, solution requirements change as do people. All of these can result in Scope creep, increased cost and an over-running timeline, something that no-one wants. These can all be readily avoided if the program adopts a solid attitude to managing change. This should be done through a formalised process to record: What the change represents. What the impact would be if accepted by all parties and is implemented. And finally record that the change is accepted or rejected by the management Board.
Often clients and 3rd party suppliers are at odds over this particular “C”: The client suspecting a shadow revenue stream on the part of the supplier. The supplier on the other hand is suspecting the client wants a Rolls Royce when they bought an Audi!! With effective change management we can always be assured we are meeting the business case and requirements.
All to often when I have asked for the communication plan there is one, and they are quite comprehensive; pre migration e-mails to end users, meetings for application managers, Governance meetings etc. In general they are good plans.
For me though this leaves a huge deficit. Why? Because people think communication is just about notification and reporting. It is in fact far more, it is about buy in and support from the wider audience. A good rule of thumb is that every single member of staff should understand that a transformation is underway and be able to give the “elevator speech” on as to why it is happening and what benefits it brings to the business. They should know where to find information on the status and know where to find the schedule of disruptions. I am not suggesting for one moment that all the members of staff for a global organisation should have an in depth understanding, just an informed awareness.
True program control derives from a clear governance structure, one that is understood and “bought into” by all stakeholders.
The program sponsors, CEO, CIO, CFO and above should foster and encourage open dialogue. The key here is not to develop a blame culture but one of honesty, the message should be “Bring your issues to the table before they hit”. Too often project managers will be reticent to bring potential bad news to the senior team, and let’s face it removing roadblocks and guiding or steering the program is the boards stock in trade!
Letting the team members know that the door is open is a great way to maintain control other than the death by meeting attempts we so often see; meetings to prepare for meetings, reviews of the steering board presentations!
A solid but lightweight Governance framework supported by freeform communications between the team will bring about a level of control which allows agility and responsive controls, not only that it will make the team proactive rather than reactive.