The Unfortunate Non-Negotiables
Software Implementation and Digital Transformation should be as humane an experience as we can make it. The people receiving the change should understand why the change is happening, they need to understand what it means for them, and, whenever possible, they need to have a say in the Change and its timing.
But oftentimes, the Software Implementation or Digital Transformation effort’s foundation is built upon a very human flaw, like the Death Star. The plan and approach for which the Change effort is based is derived from humans and shaped (and negotiated) by humans.
What does Tech Vs. Humans have against Humans?
Nothing – we think.
However, we have repeatedly seen how implementations are often structured on Non-Negotiable items. The most common is the combination of cost – keeping the price down – that includes Salespeople who negotiate with themselves on a regular basis and preconceived understandings of how things SHOULD get done.
In a recent example, a customer (and our Sales Team) couldn’t get their heads wrapped around the need for Project Management – which is a little crazy to me. Because, well, the plan is owned and maintained by the Project Management team at the end of the day. However, the customer and the Sales Team kept increasing the scope but couldn’t understand that that shift should translate to additional Project Management. They added another team – more Consulting time, yes, that was understood. But kept the same amount of Project Management. They added Change Management – more Consulting time, yes, but the same amount of Project Management.
We’ve seen this behavior time and time again. And we understand this behavior.
The scope grows while the Management of the entire effort (intended to ensure success) remains the same. Why?
How do we reconcile this gap?
In general, we all have flaws – which include, sometimes, the structure of the contract and the definition of the resources resulting from what we believe to be true. And that’s OK, as our blindspots are constantly moving and shifting. In the above situation, Project Management was clearly positioned and seen as operational overhead – a limited value-add Service. It’s hard to sell overhead, and it’s hard to justify buying something when you don’t really see its value. Yet, Project Management can and should be more than just Overhead – it’s insurance for Successful Delivery.
Now, the delivery team must recognize this situation as early as possible, document it, and raise it as a delivery risk. It’s equally important for the Stakeholders and the Sales team to be open to listening to options once the project officially starts. That doesn’t necessarily mean additional dollars but a repositioning of roles and responsibilities. Everyone wants success, so flexibility, an inherently awesome human quality, is critical to ensure other less awesome human qualities, like arrogance and bravado, don’t win the day.
Kissing the Lipless by The Shins