The deployment of a new business solution is only the start of the journey. The whole point of the project was to generate value for years to come. Strange, then, that so many project leadership teams lose interest in the results shortly after live date. Neither do line management see it as their job to preserve the enthusiasm and focus of the project. In the majority of cases, no one even bothers to confirm that benefits have actually been delivered.
The project manager should have actively tracked and managed the expected benefits throughout the project. To lay the foundation for those benefits, several things can be done in preparation for the live solution. Management attention should remain on delivering those benefits - particularly during early live running.
Well before handover of the new systems, it should be clear how the systems will be managed, maintained and operated. Who is responsible and accountable? Here are some examples:
In the days immediately before and after the deployment of a new system there is likely to be a high degree of attention given to the business changes. This will soon fall away unless management actively keep up the pressure to realise the benefits.
One particular point at which benefit should be assessed is in the Post-Implementation Review (PIR). But this should not be the only time. There should be a continuous focus on benefit throughout the life of the solution.
Here are some ideas for promoting better take up and usage of the new system:
Management should always monitor that adequate support and benefit is available from their systems. Periodically a more considered review should be made - often when there is a feeling that things could be better.
Over time, systems increasingly fail to meet the business needs. It is not that they wear out - they still do what they were originally designed to do. The point is that the business changes; the environment changes; competitors leapfrog; new ways of working become the norm; new technology opens up new possibilities. The assessment would evaluate whether an optimum level of support for the business is provided by the current systems, processes, procedures and staffing.
Check up time - what needs doing?
An off-duty dentist explained how a check up
"You poke the probe into a tooth.
If it sticks in you need a filling.
If it doesn't stick in you need a sharper probe."
Here are some typical actions that might be identified by a business benefit assessment:
A review of business benefits might lead to some fine tuning, or it might indicate the need for a complete replacement. The end of the application lifecycle is often the beginning.