Problems with Implementation Planning

A little bit ago I posted an article about how to avoid change management failures. (see: Today I want to talk more about the implementation and planning process so that you don't have failures.

This comes from an interview I did for a reporter.

1. Given your past working on organizational planning, how do you describe the difference between it and implementation planning? Additionally, what is the relationship among strategy, implementation, and execution?

Organizational planning is the structure of the organization. What work needs to be done? How does it related to the other work that needs to be done? Who is responsible for getting it done? How are the parts of the organization going to work together to accomplish shared objectives?

Implementation planning has to do with specific project and processes. For instance organization may have an HR department – that is organizational planning. Implementation is when the HR department  rolls out a new set of benefits or a new health care plan.

In order to successfully roll out a new product or process you should have a strategy as to how you plan to implement it and then – the execution is actually implementing it. So the strategy is the plan.

2. Why is implementation crucial to project success? What are the main benefits?

If you don’t implement your plan – you don’t get anything done. So – implementation is crucial. If you have the best plan in the world it’s totally irrelevant if you don’t put the plan into action.

3. What are your tips for implementation planning best practices, or for writing an implementation plan?

Make sure your plan is reality based. You need to know what problem you really should be solving so that you don’t end up solving proxy problems (problems you think are your problem but really aren’t – an example of this is praying for rain when your real problem is you need water on your field.

You need to know what is really going to impact your problem so that you don’t pray for rain which doesn’t affect anything.

And finally you need to know what you really need to do to get the work done. What resources do you need? Do you have the resources you need? Can you get the resources you need or not? If not- your plan won’t work.

4. How can software tools aid in implementation planning? Do you have experience using any tools, and how did they benefit your initiative?

To be honest – I’ve used programs of my own design to get work done – but I’ve never used it for planning purposes.

5. If you have any examples from your own career where implementation planning greatly improved your success, please also share!

When I was in acquisition and mergers we had to coordinate 5 departments into one acquisition process. We had people who had to work with the lawyers and hold the sellers hands. We had people looking at the financials. We had people looking to make sure we had title. We had people looking at the equipment to make sure it was working and we had our buyers.  We creating a software tracking system to allow us to coordinate and track each deal to make sure everyone was on the same page.  The process involved us getting together to narrow down our focus into what really mattered so we weren’t wasting time on tasks that didn’t. We then had to figure out how best to make sure each segment was able to track their unique work needs while integrating into the whole. And it had to be user friendly so that staff would actually populate the system with information.  We did organizational planning – moved on to process planning and then used that information to create a custom software system we could use that would work. Then we had to implement it and get staff using it. This last bit was tricky because departments have a tendency to hoard their information as information is power and we wanted them to share.  We did this through collective rewards – Even though there were 5 departments – we are were all on the same team and rewarded based on how many deals we closed and how good the deals were.

The best course you can take to help you with your planning processes is Reality Based Decision Making for Effective Strategy Development. It really will help you understand how to ask the right question so your strategy has the best chance of success.

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