You may have been able to accomplish a lot to this point through "guerrilla action," but now it's time to get some official recognition and visibility. The commitment of funds and the amount of work involved in successfully implementing your technology solution warrants oversight by senior decision makers in your organization.
Selecting an Implementation Project Manager
The implementation project manager (IPM) is the key player to whom everyone else involved with this project will report and look for direction. This person needs to have enough authority to direct the team and make day-to-day decisions. An effective IPM will avoid deferring to the steering committee too often to resolve issues.
The importance of selecting the right person for this job can not be over emphasized. Choose someone who can make it happen; someone with proven leadership skills. Ideally it will be someone who has successfully managed similar implementations in the past or has been a member of comparable project teams. If no one suitable is available within the organization, it may be worthwhile to look toward other sources of help, such as external contractors.
Establishing a Project Team
The IPM oversees the efforts of the project team, which consists of people who are focused on the success of the project. Make sure the project team has sufficient manpower, but make it no larger than it needs to be to get the job done. The IPM should keep in mind that more is not always better, and that throwing more people at a project can often lengthen - not shorten - the process because of the need to get everyone oriented and coordinated in their efforts. If the project team is assembled uniquely for this project by borrowing staff from other parts of the organization, make clear agreements up front about the percentage of each member's time the project will demand. It is also important to give the project team the resources (money, time, equipment, and authority) it needs to get the job done.
Appointing a Steering Committee
In the spirit of checks and balances, you might also consider organizing a steering committee. This group should meet periodically to evaluate the work of the IPM and the planning team by reviewing the progress, and addressing the issues that can't be dealt with effectively by the project team itself. Members should include:
Remember, technology doesn't implement itself; people implement technology.
- Users who will eventually have to accept and reap the benefits of your solution.
- A technical authority from your organization.
- Knowledgeable outside advisors.
- The implementation project manager (IPM), but not as chair.