Unlocking Success: Ensuring Effective Partnerships in Technology Initiatives
By David MacWatters on October 25, 2023
Technology initiatives help organizations unlock insights, enhance offerings, improve efficiencies, and ultimately become more sustainable, productive, and cost-effective. Yet we also know only 30% of technology projects are considered to be completed successfully. Successful implementations are built on clear requirements, measurable goals, and trusted partnerships.
To achieve project success, adoption, and ROI, end-user organizations and their technology partners must follow best practices for collaboration. Here are my top four recommendations for technology partnership success based on nearly three decades of experience in project and program management:
- Reach Consensus on Priorities
- Build the Dream Team
- Be Agile to Address Issues Early
- Harness Collaboration to Achieve Internal Adoption
1. Reach Consensus on Priorities
Before your organization starts a technology initiative, make clear determinations about project priorities. Rather than juggling multiple initiatives – all competing for budget and staff time – it’s vital to identify the projects that align most closely with your organization’s strategic objectives and have the most substantial potential to deliver value to your company and its client base. As a technology partner, ImageSource helps at this stage by applying our trademarked ECMecosystem methodology to guide organizations through the assessment process and strategic roadmap planning.
Once you’ve identified your potential projects, evaluate each one’s complexity against its anticipated ROI. Balance easy wins that will produce quick ROI with larger, more ambitious projects that will set the foundation for your organization’s long-term strategic initiatives. Limiting the number of projects your organization advances ensures that each project will receive the resources and attention it needs to reach successful completion.
2. Build the Dream Team from Top to Bottom
When it comes to assembling the project team, the customer organization and the technology solutions provider need to make sure the right roles are represented in the discovery process. Cast a wide net within your organization to engage decision-makers, business process owners, end-users, and in-house IT staff in discussions with the solution provider’s project manager, scrum master, and systems engineers.
The requirements that arise from this process are translated into “user stories” that help the project team clarify the needs of diverse stakeholders. Each user story guides the acceptance criteria for that part of the solution.
In the proof-of-concept stage, a lack of feedback or even a strong positive response can be a warning sign that all the necessary people haven’t been brought into the team. Usually, the stakeholders who execute a business process have an insight that people higher up the chain might not. One way to figure out who is missing is to ask granular questions about the process and draw in the person who knows the answer through direct experience. Including them helps technology vendors design a better solution and builds trust that the project’s end product will solve the underlying challenges your organization needs to address.
3. Be Agile to Address Issues Early
When selecting a technology partner, choose a solutions provider that uses Agile Project Management methodology. Agile is a game changer on multiple fronts. In solution engineering, components of the extensive solution are developed in one-week sprints and delivered in weekly increments.
Regular sprint meetings between your organization’s and solution provider’s teams ensure ongoing project team communication. Each week, both teams should agree on what requirements have (or haven’t yet) been successfully met and what project component will be the next priority. These meetings also open the chance to spot new opportunities for project development. You may be able to add features (or cut unnecessary work) in real time when it’s most cost-effective.
Agile development allows you to validate the solution throughout the project instead of waiting for the end. If a delivered component of the solution doesn’t meet the requirements in practice, you can immediately alert the team. Revising work at this point is more cost-effective for both you and your technology partner because, even in a worst-case scenario, only a week would be lost. Launch day disappointments are a thing of the past.
4. Harness Collaboration to Achieve Internal Adoption
A strong partnership helps your organization facilitate solution adoption with effective training. While your organization’s project champion and internal team should lead change management, your solution provider partner is an invaluable resource for developing training materials. Their project documentation can be adapted as the framework of your organization’s training materials. Your agreement should also specify the number of hours and type of training the solution provider will support, either in-person or as computer-based trainings.
Adoption is another area where the Agile approach makes a difference. Because solution components are delivered each week, users can train on the new solution along the way. They’re not ‘drinking from a firehose’ at the end. When the project is complete, your organization’s stakeholders are already familiar with and comfortable using the new technology. The fast pace of adoption means you can start measuring the benefits and seeing ROI immediately.
Putting it All Together
Communication is the key to success. At ImageSource, we start each collaboration by crafting a shared Vision Document that lives throughout the project’s life. At the start, we use this to chart the business process problems and desired end state. We build a Project Charter and functional specifications together, filling in details of users and requirements, keeping the project alive, evolving, and making decisions traceable. Weekly meetings and consistent communication allow both sides of the team to address questions or concerns and troubleshoot emerging issues before their negative impact can derail the project.
The mindset isn’t about the product, but the quality of the collaboration itself. A good project manager leads team communication, resulting in a clearer understanding of requirements, more effective technology solutions, real-time troubleshooting, seamless adoption, and measurable ROI.
David MacWatters is a seasoned technology leader with 28 years of experience in project and program management. Ready to learn more about ImageSource’s Vision Documents and start your own with one of our process innovation experts? Let’s Collaborate!