Monday, January 14, 2013

IT Projects and our day jobs - Keys to Success #3 - Our participation

We all have 'day jobs'.  That is, we work in finance, procurement, sales, human resources, and operations, among other roles.

When a major IT System change comes into our organization, sometimes we're asked to join a team to help implement the new System.  From a Change Management perspective, it is critical to engage multiple stakeholders in the process to ensure a complete implementation.  Participation is critical to success.

But let's go back to the day job for a moment.  Our finance, procurement, sales, human resources and operations roles do not prepare us for the IT/System implementation.  Even the most savvy among us may find themselves bewildered by the project.  Here are a few reasons:

  1. We are exposed to a brand new language.
  2. There are new terms we need to learn.
  3. We are brought together around levels of complexity that may boggle the mind a bit!

And what about the 'day job'?  Although we're often flattered and intrigued by being selected to support the project, we have concerns.
  1. We've been asked to commit hours, days, maybe weeks and months to the project.
  2. We have other priorities to manage.
  3. We've heard the project has been attempted before ... and failed.
  4. We've heard we have to travel, adding further complexity to an already busy schedule.
  5. There's risk in our participation: We may show our incompetence of the overall process. 
So what can we do to be successful when invited to participate?  Here are some tips based on my experience with IT/System Implementations ...

  • Work with our teams to delegate responsibilities.
  • Gain a clear picture of our involvement - what are the expectations for time, effort, project deliverables?
  • Ask for clarity on our levels of influence ... do we have the right to question process or protocol when it seems like things are not moving in a good direction?
  • Learn the terminology, as painful as that may be.  Meetings are difficult - meetings with non-stop misunderstood complex technical terms are brutal.
You have a day job.  Your organization wants to invest very heavily in a new system to improve performance ... it's to your benefit and the benefit of others to improve, so get on board and help.  Just take the time to ask some questions early in the process. 

The benefits?  A central system brings together the component parts of our complex organizations.  An IT implementation can teach us how the pieces fit together.  In the long run, that knowledge can help build your career.    But don't be fooled - it's going to take a lot of hard work. 

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