The scenario: You are the Implementation Project Manager at a consulting firm. Your consulting team is about to implement a replacement Human Capital Management (HCM) system for your client, a mid-size automotive manufacturer. The client company will be transitioning from their current system to the new system. Your technical consulting team members are experienced, manage their tasks very well and you have worked with them on many projects. The HCM vendor’s implementation processes are mature and well documented. Your client is motivated and has the necessary team members selected for the client-side work, though there is significant competition for the people you will need, as they are busy in their day-to-day roles.
On the same day you kick off the project, your 15-year-old son says, “I get the project thing with highly experienced technical workers doing their jobs – but what value do YOU add to the project as the Project Manager? And what makes your consulting team different than another?
Three Project Steps
At a high level, a project typically goes through three stages:
Sales > Implementation > Ongoing Support
There will be two major transitions throughout the project – the handoff from the Sales team to the Implementation team, and the handoff from the Implementation team to the Ongoing Support team.
As the Implementation Project Manager
I play a critical role in ensuring these handoffs are successful.
First, for the Sales handoff, as the Project Manager, I want to make sure our consulting team doing the implementation receives complete and accurate knowledge about the project and the Client. What is the scope and timing? What people resources will we have and are they adequate? What is important to the client? Who will our team be working with at the client company? And most importantly, what is the definition of success for this project and how do we measure it?
For the handoff to Ongoing Support, I want to accomplish several objectives. The first objective is to effectively close out the implementation project which includes ensuring all deliverables completed, archive key technical documentation, and obtain final signoff from the client. The next objective is to make sure a successful knowledge transfer from the project team to the support team occurs, as it is important to make sure the support team has the information needed to start providing ongoing support to the client. Finally, I want to coordinate a smooth experience for the client as they transition to Support.
The Implementation stage is where the consulting team, led by the Project Manager, delivers.
For software implementation projects, there are many tasks that each must be accomplished correctly in order for the project to be successful. So, to manage the project, the Project Manger breaks up the implementation work into phases like this.
- Prepare / Plan – Establish a road map from start to finish.
- Define – Capture Customer Requirements.
- Design – Identify exactly what the consulting team will provide as a solution to meet those requirements.
- Build – Assemble the pieces into a functional system.
- Validate – Work with the client to verify that the system works and identify any issues and fix them.
- Deploy – Client gives us the approval and we set up Production, and Launch the system. Launch is also referred to as Go-Live.
- Transition to Ongoing Support – Once the Project Manger is sure everything is stable, the Client is then smoothly transitioned to Support, and the project is closed out.
As Project Manager I start by preparing our consulting team. We prepare a plan for the project and establish a cadence for the project as to what happens when. Using the information from the handoff from the Sales team, I make sure our consulting team knows what we need to deliver.
The Project Manger and consulting team work closely with the software vendor, especially when our implementation project is a small piece of a much bigger project. As Project Manager, I lead coordination with those external organizations as well.
The client often has a Project Manager that I work with. The client Project Manager owns the overall user adoption plan for the implementation of the new system (unless of course they decide to have HRchitect lead their change management). The client Project Manager manages all their concurrent internal activities that must be accomplished to achieve the desired project outcome – those predefined success metrics. Together, both Project Managers work to achieve the best results for the entire value stream.
Within each project phase, as the technical teams work on their tasks, my role changes from one of planning to facilitating. One aspect of the facilitator role is to coordinate strong communications by assisting with scheduling key meetings.
Of course, there is no such thing as a “perfect” project. A critical task for the Project Manager is to listen as work progresses, and to identify where a process, team or team member may need assistance. The goal is to optimize, overcome roadblocks and keep the project track within the big picture perspective. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made.
The results the client and consulting team achieve in a phase are critical to the phases that follow. Both teams establish gate criteria between phases as to what the deliverables must be, review the results together and get signoff. As the Project Manager, I own these phase-to-phase transitions.
The success of a project is more than delivering it on time and within budget. It is possible to have a “successful” implementation and still have the project “fail” from a business value perspective. For example, our consulting team is implementing payroll software; one goal is to successfully install the software. The next goal is a successful processed payroll, where success is defined as on time and accurate. But complete project success is to also realize the benefits of why the client decided to initiate the project – such as lower cost of operations, elimination of manual processes, reduction of errors, etc. The Project Manager works within that bigger context to help the client achieve optimal business results with their newly implemented system.
Here is additional value that an HRchitect Project Manager and HRchitect team provides.
- Project Manager and technical team are certified – we are authenticated by the vendor on the proper implementation of the product and related processes. Execution at every level, adheres to vendor certified methods and strategies. Working with a Certified Implementation Partner means you’ll have high quality delivery
- Relevant Experience – This allows us to effectively and efficiently complete project tasks. The HRchitect consulting team is a team that has worked together for years on a variety of projects, across a wide range of industries. As a result, we have the knowledge to answer questions, and provide guidance to overcome roadblocks. Chances are we’ve been there, done that.
- Proven Project Tools – we use mature methodologies, plans, best practices, tools, and performance measures for implementing the system that are proven to work.
- Established Connections – we have a strong relationship with vendors and other experts that allows us to get answers to questions, obtain resources, expedite activities, and manage escalations.
- Extended Skill Set – If you need to obtain expertise that you do not currently have with your current staff, or just want extra staff (so you don’t have to pull employees away from their actual jobs), HRchitect can help with Staff Augmentation for project tasks. We can also provide services for Analysis, Change Management and Governance.
The goal of the project team is to deliver what was ordered. The value of utilizing HRchitect is by bringing to bear the above, we will optimize the project result. Our clients benefit from controlled project spending/lower costs, greater efficiencies, improved team and stakeholder satisfaction, improved project results, and reduced risks.
About Warren Phillips
Warren Phillips is a Senior Consultant and Project Manager at HRchitect. With over 30 years of experience in the training industry, Warren has led the implementation of training initiatives and Talent Management Systems for a wide range of commercial and government projects. He is also an expert in the technical side of training as well as an experienced training developer with a solid understanding of adult learning theories, instructional systems design, and user interface design for instructor led, self-paced and blended learning solutions.