Proactive vs. Reactive

Strategy & Governance

All Politics Projects Are Local

It’s been said that all politics are local. We would submit that all projects are local too. Think about a typical HR technology project. There are pain points in the current landscape, so someone decides it’s time to think about new systems. Senior level HR execs lead the effort to evaluate current state, determine future scope, invite new players to be considered, and ultimately secure funding for the new project. And then the work begins.

The System Implementer comes in and wants to talk to the experts about current process and future requirements. Then when the system is configured the client is expected to test the system and sign off that all is well. It’s not those senior HR execs that are in these meetings, it’s the local HR administrators, HRIS analysts and payroll specialists that we rely on for the accurate information and practical requirements for our organization to implement the best fit new system. All projects are local; and this is where the risk creeps in.

We too often rely on these local resources during technology implementations leading to the Proactive-Reactive Risk. It means that the real detailed, hard work of the project falls to those who already have full plates worth of work in their day job and we expect them to take on the additional work of implementing new technology. Think about it, if they didn’t already have a full-time job these positions would have already been consolidated or eliminated so how can we expect to layer on a project without creating risk?

It goes like this. The payroll specialist is required to be doing parallel testing (proactive work for the future system) but someone needs a dozen manual checks cut immediately (reactive work for the customer). Which does she choose? Often her manager’s advice is to do her best to get both done because the trade-off is too difficult leaving the payroll specialist in a no-win situation.

How do we avoid this risk? A couple of things come to mind. First, make sure there is a Project Manager running the overall project that represents you the Client. A seasoned, forward thinking PM will be aware of this impossible situation and will proactively book calendars well ahead of time for the specialists, admins and analysts that need to be involved on the project with instructions to communicate to customers to expect delays during these times. While it doesn’t eliminate the risk it can mitigate it.

The absolute best practice is to make an investment in your project that brings the extra capacity needed to help your internal staff during implementation. Experienced Business Analysts are invaluable to work alongside your staff to assist with gathering requirements, creating test scenarios, scrubbing data, populating templates for conversion, and managing user acceptance testing. This way your valuable internal resources are only involved when absolutely necessary and free from the time-consuming, detailed work required to make your project successful. Yes, it is an additional cost but do your internal people really have the time and expertise outside help can bring? The additional investment is well worth it when your project stays on time and is executed well.

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