6 Steps You Must Take BEFORE Implementing a Large-Scale Project with a Vendor
By: Tonya Porath, Director of Implementations
Every large-scale project faces uncertainty, especially when you’re partnering with a new vendor. You hope that the vendor truly understands your vision. You worry about deadlines and the drain on your internal resources. And, you wonder about all of the things out of your control that could derail the project.
Don’t worry. Even though you may be unfamiliar with these types of projects, you can improve its chances for success exponentially by relying on what you do know — and using it to take a systemic approach that prepares your team for almost anything.
There are six internal pre-implementation steps you can take for a large-scale project, including:
- Ask yourself what you know about your organization.
You can set realistic expectations for the project and vendor by assessing how members of your organization work — or don’t work — with each other. Think beyond the project plan. Consider the culture, or personality, of the organization.
Are decisions made quickly? Unilaterally? Even more importantly, who makes them — and how accessible are those decision-makers?
- Reach out to your internal experts
You may not even know where to begin — but somebody in your organization does. Connect with managers or leaders of other large-scale implementations. They’ve been through it. Learn from their experiences. They know where the roadblocks, pitfalls and possible solutions are. Lean on them for background information that you can use to kick-start your own initiative. They’re also great resources you can return to later for valuable insights.
- Gather the team.
Put the right team in place. Consider which parts of your organization are affected by this implementation. Get them involved. Or, at least, get their insights to assess how their team is affected now — and how that could change after implementation. Ask specifically about both best- and worst-case scenarios.
- Find a project champion.
Whether your team includes only a few key stakeholders — or several layers from various parts of the organization — find an influential collaborator to help usher your program along. Partner with them to share information or concerns with other stakeholders. In turn, they have their own network of support and champions to alleviate concerns from other decision-makers.
- Know the process, from beginning to end.
There are no shortcuts. And there’s no going back. Your ability to shepherd this implementation through unforeseen challenges hinges on your ability to build a strategy — with the right people in place — to overcome them quickly. There’s no way to know what roadblocks you’ll face, but you can prepare for them.
Think about backup plans. Know who the key information workers are. And share your knowledge with the vendor, so you can react quickly when necessary. After all, sometimes the best decisions are the fastest ones — and it’s easier to make those decisions when you have the information readily available.
- Address the gray areas.
Obviously, there’s no way to know everything. That’s why it’s critically important that you gather as much information as possible before the project is underway — and why you’re seeking input from other key stakeholders.
Questions will be raised — either by your contacts, or by the information you gather during the vendor evaluation process and the pre-implementation phase. Use this to your advantage. Address these gray areas, or uncertainties, quickly before they become larger issues.
Get more value from your partnerships
The best vendors are an extension of your organization. But it doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen by accident. Strong collaboration requires a lot of preparation and work from both parties.
Do your part. Now. Use what you know about your organization, and share it with your new vendor, so you can alleviate possible roadblocks that could derail timelines and budgets later.