There are many a factors that can deter a successful, seamless transition, and although the list of these deterrents can be long and exhaustive, here are a few that I feel are on top of the list and if managed can ensure a successful and seamless transition for any customer.
Planning – The backbone of any transition is in its planning and ensuring it is done so in the right means. Yes, there is always a dark cloud waiting to pour down on every transition in means of CHANGE, and as much as we ready ourselves for ensuring this doesn’t happen, it somehow finds a way through the cracks. So although fool proofing a plan isn’t 100% possible, critical paths of the project should be planned properly so as to ensure that there aren’t any changes that occur to those. Planning is the starting block for any transition and hence needs to be drilled into the ground so your start is strong. If this gets missed, we then only end up with missed timelines, budgets, inefficient delivery and a very dissatisfied customer.
Change in Scope – This although is part and parcel of the planning that goes into implementation of a project is something that I feel should be given a good amount of importance to because any Change in Scope post completion of the planning and implementation phases only disrupts the implementation by skewing up the efforts, budgets, and deployment timelines, putting the project in jeopardy, as there is no going back once you’ve started a project, so you instead are stuck with trying to bring to pace the changed scope although you are ahead by a long run.
Flexibility – Now although this sounds just the opposite to both the above mentioned points, it in reality isn’t, because without project flexibility built in to accommodate revised, revisited or revamped delivery timelines, the project may just fall apart due to misprioritization.
As confusing as this sounds, the flexibility that we are talking about are on tasks that are off the critical path, ones within a critical path if not completed will affect overall delivery, and should hence never be compromised on.
Flexi delivery dates can be assigned to tasks where information/assistance is required and even if not delivered within the given deadlines will not affect the end result. If this isn’t though taken into consideration, we will only end up seeing stakeholders not knowing what to concentrate on and providing incorrect or incomplete information which will then require rework and affect the customer experience as well as the end delivery.
Pre-Planning – The most misconceived notion that almost all businesses have is that transition starts only post a deal getting closed, in reality though this commences right from the point that the Sales team goes out into the market looking for that prospective customer, and understanding what their needs are.
If the Sales team doesn’t partner with the transition team right from the time the prospect is being conceptualized they then unlink themselves from one of the critical success factors of a deal and can only then slowly watch the deal falling apart right as it slowly unravels in front of them.
Falling prey to requests – We have all heard the golden quote “The customer is always right”, and if in/from the service industry this is followed as one of the Golden Rules of customer service.
When I agree that it is true that the “customer is right” it is not necessary that they “always” are, and can be very true to this especially when they are being sold to.
As a quick example, during a sales pitch if a customer understands that the sales guy is going all out to win the deal, they will push them right to the point of no return ensuring they get all they want and that the sales guy is locked in to deliver to their ask. Now when this is healthy at times, they don’t always end up having a good outcome, especially when it comes to crunching things such as delivery timelines.
A transition is normally built around a few core/critical tasks, such as (Infrastructure, Hiring, Training, Learning Curve and Go-Live), now if any of these are crunched beyond what actually can be handled, they only end up breaking the delivery cycle and in turn affecting the success of the transition.
With this being said, I have till date not seen a customer who isn’t understanding of how such requests can end up affecting quality of delivery, but their understanding is only to the point of where we reason the same with them, and do so rightly.
It may be a personal understanding, but I have always felt that a customer pushes you, not to see how far you can go, but how easy you can crumble, and when that happens you will notice the slow downfall in everything we are out to achieve.
In closing, it is pertinent that we understand, a couple of things.
When it is pertinent to have a robust methodology to be followed during a transition, it is also important to ensure that the customer is kept in mind. A transition methodology should look at achieving the end result, ensuring that the path taken to achieve does not end up complicating the journey of getting there.
The shortest & fastest route is not always the most successful, as you end up missing out on the small things that make a difference, because when it comes to transitioning a business, the devil lies in the detail, and if we do not get to understand the detail, we get overwhelmed and under perform, which in no means is something any customer wants to see.
It is hence essential that every project manager keep in mind the destination ensuring the path taken is only an essential one and not one that puts his customer through a tedious journey. Do always remember, it is not just you traveling the journey, you are carrying your customer through also, and you should leave it as a memorable one for them.