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The Art and Science Behind Successful Project Implementations

By Yelenia Almarales, HRIS Director, Florida International University

Yelenia Almarales, HRIS Director, Florida International University

We are living in an era where change is rapidly taking place; we see it in technology, the workforce, and even how we do work. For an HR Professional, the concept of change is not foreign. In order to adapt and keep current with constant changes, we must utilize project management. It is in doing so, that we can achieve a successful outcome.

Successful project management requires close attention to five key areas:

• Communication 
• Adhering to the Timeline
• Solid Requirements Gathering
• Change Management 
• Executive Leadership Support

Communication

Sound and effective communication is both an art and a science. Knowing who your audience is and connecting with them is paramount. There are three main groups a project manager will be interacting with: stakeholders, supporters, and spectators. The first group, the stakeholders, are those people affected by the project’s success. They include project managers, team members, and costumers. The second group are the supporters, these people help you complete your project without working on it directly. It may include finance, technical support, lawyers or facilities. The last group is the spectators, those individuals who may be interested in the project and the work being performed but are not impacted by it. It is recommended, at project inception, to meet one-on-one with each team member to understand their role and identify the communication vehicle of their preference. An audience list should be created, where the three main groups and their roles will be listed. It is important to understand that the communication needs be based on the role and not the people, since people change in and out of roles. One must be specific about the communication tool to be used for each group; one-on-one meetings, emails, or reports. Identify how much the stakeholders need to know about the project and keep in mind their preference. Some will want to be updated daily, others, once the milestones are completed.

"HR professionals can have the best intentions, desire to administer change, and implement a project. However, without discipline, support, and user buy-in, a project that requires top dollar investment will just be another big expenditure without sizable return"

Adhering to the Timeline

A key indicator of project success is how well a timeline is developed and followed. A timeline represents the chronological order of events showing the phases and milestones of the project. Detailed documentation of what tasks are completed, in progress, and in the future will allow the project team to stay on track by performing the appropriate planning and resource allocation.

Solid Requirements Gathering

Requirements gathering is essential to the success of any project. This is what defines the project scope and lays out the foundation for the work to be performed. The basics of this important task lie in asking the right questions. Never assume what the customer needs or wants. Involve the impacted users from the beginning, ensuring the requirements are specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based. Be sure to obtain clarity whenever there is doubt and develop a solid, clear, and detailed document of all requirements being asked. Share the document with the customer in order to confirm what is being asked for, obtain consensus on the requirements and scope before the project begins.

Change Management 

Change management is the collection of all methods and tactics used to effect change. It involves preparing, supporting and helping individuals, teams and organizations perform and adopt change within the organization. It is important to recognize that change happens at all levels, therefore we need to be prepared to communicate to and address all levels of the organization. Obtaining the users buy-in will contribute to faster adoption rate of the change. This is attained involving all those impacted by the change process, getting their input and keeping them abreast of what’s to come at the same time they are provided with tools to deal with the change. Identifying change champions, those within the organization who believe and are rooting for the change, will provide the project team with individuals who can help disseminate the message and incite others to embrace the change.

Executive Leadership Support

One of the most important factors contributing to successful projects is securing the support of executive leaders. They provide clarification of strategic objectives, vision and expectations that guarantee the project is implemented in alignment with the organizational strategy. Executive leadership ensures appropriate funding is allocated and has the power to influence the functional teams, by assigning the right individuals to the project. Their support is critical when obtaining project buy-in, managing risks, and making project altering decisions.

Effective and efficient project management helps organizations keep up with all the rapid changes affecting them. HR professionals can have the best intentions, desire to administer change, and implement a project. However, without discipline, support, and user buy-in, a project that requires top dollar investment will just be another big expenditure without sizable return.

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