I’ve spent a fair amount of time on this blog describing how an internal IT organization or a consulting firm can develop that sense of team by doing a few simple thing to get the user community involved. But what about the business organization for which the new system is being built? Can the business team also help in building that teamwork that is so necessary in developing and implementing a new system?
Absolutely! Part of my service offerings over the last dozen years or so has been to assist business organizations, taking a leadership role in their Project Management Offices (PMOs). In that capacity, I focus primarily on working with the business teams to help prepare them for their work with the IT development teams. Often the end-users’ (or business team’s) roles span several months or years, as they assist in the development of functional requirements and eventual implementation of their new system. Many of the projects that I oversee in this capacity are turnkey projects (meaning the responsibility for delivery falls primarily on the IT organization); but the end-user has a major role in helping to ensure the success of the project.
And for that they must be prepared.
One of the first workshops that I conduct for the business team is that of understanding the Request for Proposals (RFP), or Statement of Work (SOW) if conducted by the internal IT organization, that was developed to describe the system to be developed and implemented. Often the business staff that is seconded to the project has had nothing to do with the content of the RFP or SOW. They come onto the project completely unaware or unprepared for their roles.
As I take them through the exercise of understanding the high-level functional requirements documented in the RFP/SOW, I begin to prepare them for their role on the project. I help them understand what was asked for in the system, and was not asked. Later, when they participate in detailed requirements definition sessions, they will be prepared to work with the consultants or their IT department staff on what is the scope for the project, and ignore what is not in scope.
What does this do for the end-users who will be participating on a project as their first experience? It helps to prepare them not to feel intimidated by the (apparently) superior knowledge of the IT analysts. It boosts their confidence as the subject matter experts. And anything that boost their confidence right from project initiation is a huge plus to both teams.
Interestingly enough, I also spend some time on the terms and conditions of the contract or the SOW under which they will be performing. My goal is not to have them understand the contractual terms completely, but rather to create an awareness that there are boundaries within which they and their IT counterparts will be working. Then later in the project when the IT staff will undoubtedly raise the “out-of-scope” flag, the business team will understand what they mean by that and react accordingly.
[If you’re looking for an upbeat keynote speaker, an experienced seminar leader, an on-site project management coach, or an expert in project oversight and IV&V, you need look no further. Contact Merv to help guarantee your project delivery success.]
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