CTRM projects can take 6 to 18 months to execute and there are few milestones more significant than a project go-live. Given the tremendous effort and focus to get to this point, go-live should be properly celebrated. If the project was on-time and on-budget, then it is especially hard not to feel victorious. However, carefully navigating the weeks after go-live can be the difference between the project being viewed as a success or failure.
We call the 12-16 week period after go-live the stabilize phase and it is during this time frame that we work to make sure that the solution is successfully adopted. Stabilization is challenging because the organization must now rely on new technology to perform their daily tasks. Frustration can creep in because people are executing critical business processes while learning a new way of working. This is when the project team must shift its focus to user adoption.
Our teams have managed hundreds of go-lives and we have compiled a list of 4 tips to assist in the transition to a new way of working.
1. Respond Rapidly
Throughout the project life-cycle, the team will work at the pace needed to hit project milestones. This pace typically accelerates from planning to execute. Post go-live, the pace of response should be measured in minutes and hours instead of days and weeks. The project team must be ready to pivot to this different pace by having a way to record and resolve issues. If the PNL is wrong, it will be visible to the highest levels of the organization and there will be significant pressure to correct it. It is easy for the organization to lose perspective because the truth is that the PNL has never correct 100% (e.g. deal entry errors, bad prices), but they will want to see rapid resolution of issues that are raised.
Quickly working through issues will help to build confidence that while the system may not be perfect, they can trust that issues will be resolved quickly. Some of the tactics we utilize during this phase include:
Centralize issue tracking
Issue tracking in a central place where progress can be monitored and measured. As issues are resolved the impacted end user can be notified. Another benefit is that reports can be produced to keep management informed (e.g. # of open issues, priority, and severity).
Super users can be a tremendous aid during this phase. Super-users are members of the business and who have learned the technology give the project instant credibility. The super-users are typically able to explain to their fellow team members in a way that is relatable. They also serve as an example that this new process and functionality was created with expertise from the business.
2. Embed Members of the Project Team with the Business
From the start of the project, the project team’s focus is on completing tasks that progress towards go-live. These tasks typically involve configuration, development and testing of the system. Once the project goes live the focus will shift to working with the users. To help with this transition, we recommend integrating members of the project team with the business.
We typically move business analysts (or super users) from the project work area to sit with the business. For example, we may sit members on the trade floor, risk teams and back-office. During month end-close, we also work alongside the accountants. In our experience having someone embedded with the team helps provide rapid responsiveness and also our next point, knowledge transfer.
3. Focus on Knowledge Transfer
Transferring knowledge to the long-term owners is key to stabilizing the organization. Most users will have heard about the project, but it is something that may not have impacted them directly. For the project team, this has been a full-time effort so it will be important for the project team to remember to meet people where they are and to have a structured plan to get them where they need to be.
As part of this transition, knowledge transfer must occur from the project team to the business and IT. This will not only help get buy-in, but it will also mean that more people can assist in troubleshooting. As the organization becomes more self-sufficient, the project team can either roll-off or begin working on follow-on phases.
4. Control the Message through Proactive Communication
Perception is reality and therefore it is important to provide a complete picture regarding the state of affairs. The initial feedback from users will largely be related issues they may be experiencing. There may be some frustration attached with this feedback so it will be important to make sure that this is not the only message that is being provided to the organization.
Proactively communicating means ensuring that the necessary stakeholders hear from the project team regarding progress. 100 issues may have been opened in the first week, but if they were all resolved within a few hours or days, then this is a sign that things are actually going well because they were resolved quickly. When it comes to communication, we have found it is most helpful if it provides:
We like to say that facts are friendly. If the issues are technology related, then we need to be transparent about this. If they are business process related, then it is important to let business leaders know so that they can help resolve the issue.
Some stakeholders will need daily communication in regard to progress while others will rely on weekly updates. It is important that a cadence gets established early and is kept so that users can count on when information is shared.
All of the information (good and bad) needs to be put on the table. This will help to build trust that all issues are being discussed and give the process integrity. Challenges from front-to-back office should be included.
A project has many phases and each one presents a fresh set of challenges. Anticipating and planning for these challenges can keep the project on-track to realizing business goals and values.
This blog is part of the CTRM Project Management Done Right series. Check out our previous blogs from the series and look for more to come.
- CTRM Project Management Done Right overview
- Measure Twice, Cut Once: Planning for a Successful Project
- Expectation Management: The Difference Between Project Success and Failure
- Unknown Unknowns: How to Manage Risk Against the Unexpected
- Embedded Change Management: How to be a Change Manager without Telling Anyone
- Optimizing Post Go-Live: 5 Tips to Ensure Delivery of Business Value
At Veritas Total Solutions, we are experts in CTRM Systems and believe our strong project management skills make us uniquely positioned to help clients through the stabilization stage and ultimately reach business value. If you are interested in learning more about our specific capabilities, contract us to learn more or subscribe to our blog to stay connected.