Implementation Pitfalls
From: M. D. Anderson Department of Performance Improvement
Date: January 15, 2008

Helen Sprigg-Saenz: Good afternoon, my name is Helen Sprigg-Saenz, I'm one of the Education Specialists with the Office of Performance Improvement. I've been asked this afternoon to share with you pitfalls of Project Implementation. Some of the best planned projects fail during implementation phase of a project due to the changes incurred during this phase which are not included or fully addressed in the comprehensive planning of the project. The quote on the screen by Dwight Eisenhower best describes implementation planning. "Your implementation plan can only be as good as the solution it's rolling out."So before designing the implementation plan make sure the foundation you are working from is solid.

Pitfall number one: having an unclear aim statement and a missing or invalid identified cause can lead to an incomplete solution. The aim statement and the cause need to be strategically aligned with the solution for your project. Look at your aim statement and make sure that the statement is clear enough so that everyone in your department can interpret it the same way. The cause defines where the focus of the problem lies, the solution had better be complete enough to make a dent in the aim statement or it may not be the right solution. As long as there is alignment between both the aim and the cause with the solution, a good implementation will bring about the desired results.

Pitfall number two: under resourcing the change effort. There should be a valid business need for introducing the change. The resources needed to make your solution a success should be included in the project implementation plan. People don't change for the fun of it and leadership wants to support what is good for the organization.

Being successful in change is not something performed with your spare time and spare people, which leads us to the next pitfall - underselling the change effort, pitfall number three. Forgetting to address people's feelings and securing buy-in from the entire team is one of the most common reasons for this pitfall. The implementation phase does not spend the time necessary to sell the solution. People don't mind change; they just mind surprises and changes that are forced upon them when they've had no input.

Forgetting to solicit back and input creates resistance and implementation can become a fight rather than an expedition. Sometimes large projects are the best implemented in stages which brings us to pitfall number four, change too much too fast. Some solutions are too big to absorb by the culture all at once, see if you can break your project into manageable portions and develop separate implementation plans for each. It respects the workforce's ability to change, it readies them for the next change and it places the organization in a mode for acceptance of that continuous change.Our next pitfall addresses the formative assessment of your implementation plan.

Pitfall number five: expect smooth sailing for you and the workforce. The implementation plan attempts to predict what will be needed for successful change but guess what? Surprise happens; the implementation team needs to be prepared for adjusting to the unknown. The next pitfall is a common barrier to the success of any solution.

Pitfall number six: forgetting to train the ranks. It's a big mistake to expect the workforce to understand new roles and new ways without a sufficient break-in period. People learn differently so consider, visual, verbal, experiential ways of getting the instructions across to the workforce. Have you ever had an implementation plan unravel over time?

Pitfall number seven: expect your implementation to last, so you think you were finished once you implemented your plan. Remember that today's problems were yesterday's solutions; the way to prevent this from happening is to keep the implementation adaptable to the environment around it. Expect it to change.

So what are some of the implementation tools that can aid you during your project implementation? The website implementation tools, you will find a wealth of tools on the Create Solutions webcast page to guide and track your implementation. You will find an Excel spreadsheet that lets you schedule implementation, an implementation checklist, and the top ten ways to kill implementation which was provided in a previous webcast. Each of these resources will help you smooth the transition to your new and improved way.

I'd like to thank you for allowing me to share the pitfalls of project implementation with you. I hope that they'll prove beneficial in implementing your project, and now a word from our sponsors.