4 key considerations to ensure consistency and quality when project planning
November 05, 2020
There’s more pressure than ever to deliver projects on time, on budget and on brief. It’s vital that we look to guarantee the consistency and quality of delivery at every step of the way, particularly when it comes to business systems and software. Here are four key considerations to keep front of mind to ensure timely, cost-effective and successful projects, every time.
1. Strategic alignment
It’s crucial that both customer and supplier are well aligned in terms of what they want to achieve and how to achieve it. Understanding customer goals and priorities is vital if the project is to be a success. Representation from the project team is often part of the sales process. This ensures there is continuity throughout the project and first-hand understanding about what exactly the customer wants to achieve, including the likely combination of factors to be considered such as scope, time and budget. It’s important that the sales team takes time to brief the project team if there is no project representation as part of the sales process.
The most successful projects begin with a proposal confirming the supplier’s principal understanding of the project is correct. Only once this is agreed to should a more formal Statement of Work (SOW) be generated. This clarifies key areas of engagement such as:
- The specific approach
- A more detailed clarification of the scope of the project
- Key considerations
The accuracy of the SOW is critical to the success of the project, representing the solid foundation that underpins the engagement. Once the SOW is agreed and signed, a kick-off meeting should follow. This step includes those who haven’t been involved in the initial sales process, bringing them up to speed with the specific expectations and deliverables of the project as defined in the SOW. A comprehensive SOW is the most important point of reference from which to start any project if there is no project charter.
2. Consistent best practice
There are often very specific and tangible deliverables involved when you’re dealing with a software product, which wouldn’t necessarily vary from customer to customer. This means that suppliers can add even more value through the working practices they employ. They can bring that expertise and knowledge to each new project by drawing on their experience of delivering a consistent software product to multiple customers across multiple business sectors.
Every member of the project team should be accountable for any customer interaction they have, whether taking part in regular update meetings or running a requirements workshop. Colleagues should be expected to prepare properly for every customer interaction they make, ensuring it can be delivered confidently and credibly. They should guarantee any follow-up actions or decisions are captured and ensure that expectations are correctly managed every step of the way.
All interactions and tasks must add genuine value to the project. It’s important to consider the risk/reward balance. The delicate balance between cost vs benefit can be upset If suppliers invest too much time, not to mention money, in mitigating risk. This leads to cost and timing issues, which can jeopardize the successful delivery of the entire project.
3. Pre-defined value
The benefit of experience and expertise is a major bonus. It’s hugely beneficial to be able to map out a project as early on in the process as possible in certain circumstances. This helps customers to focus on what suppliers are proposing to deliver relative to their end goals: clearly articulating the start point, what the supplier is going to do, how it will be done and how costs will be managed.
The use of template configuration offerings can be a very useful tool, particularly when dealing with industries where there are clear, pre-defined compliance or process requirements. This could be templates which enable compliance with the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for financial services customers, or a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) template which ensures compliance enablement as standard.
The supplier can implement a solution that is already built accompanied by a pre-defined, proven and fully costed delivery approach. This helps define the project from end-to-end, providing a service and solution which significantly accelerates a project while ensuring the best possible cost-benefit outcome for the customer.
These offerings don’t need to be limited to products, either. With pre-defined service packages such as training, customers have the opportunity to take greater ownership of the software product, resulting in an opportunity for even faster ROI.
4. Closing the loop
It is crucial to maintain excellent communication not only between customer and supplier, but within the supplier project team, too. It’s important that colleagues get together regularly alongside formal project reviews and meetings, either virtually or physically, to share experiences and feedback. This way teams can improve processes and practices and discuss vital experiences to inform continued, consistent project success, however challenging the brief.
For more information on how you can benefit from Aptean’s expertise and experience contact us today.
This blog was written by Aptean’s Martin Symonds and was originally published on MyCustomer.