Make Quick Wins Your Springboard to Success - Page 1

Nov 4, 2009

Derek Lonsdale

Despite good intentions, organizations often fail to deliver expected outcomes, resulting in a loss of stakeholder confidence and frustration among the business and IT staff. Avoiding this demoralizing outcome should be a matter of priority for service improvement teams. Following some simple rules for managing quick wins will increase the likelihood that you’ll deliver the vital early gains, which are your springboard to long-term success.

Define what a “quick win” is - Don’t take it for granted that everyone knows what you mean by "quick win". There is a very good chance that people will understand the term slightly differently. It is crucial at the outset to clearly define what quick win means to your program, your team and, most importantly, your customers and sponsors. Agreeing on a timescale that represents “quick” delivery, and defining what success will look and feel like for your customers will avoid wasting time on unproductive discussions about why you haven’t achieved what was expected.

Typically, a quick win should take no longer than three months to deliver, but make sure that your timescales match the sponsor’s expectations. It may be that they are looking for a faster outcome. Bear in mind that you can’t always implement a permanent fix when the pressure is on to make fast improvements, so the outcome of a quick win can be a temporary (tactical) step to relieve a specific pain-point. Make sure your customers understand that, if this is the case, it may require you to spend additional time later on in the improvement project to make the fix permanent.

Agree what you want to fix and stick to it - Managing scope-creep is important for all projects, but the short time scales and high visibility of quick wins means that it is vital to maintain your focus. You have to avoid getting burdened with additional requirements, which will derail your "quick" delivery. Prioritizing your efforts and sticking to a few, key outcomes will give you a much higher chance of success than trying to hit all of your target issues at once.

Make sure that each of your quick wins has a defined problem statement which relates to an outcome that can be seen and felt. If you aren’t working on things that have a visible result, it will be much tougher proving that you’re making any kind of appreciable difference. Fixing some of the key pain-points quickly is preferable to delivering a new process which is tucked away in the background.

Once you’ve agreed your list of outcomes, fix the scope and stick to it. Don’t allow "just one more little thing" to be labeled as a quick win. Avoid the temptation to replace items on the list. Your time scales and limited resources won’t allow you to keep starting new tasks. If, and when, new things come up, add them to a list which will be worked on when the current list is complete.

Use your rising stars to lead - When you’re up against it to provide quick wins, you need to make sure you are using your very best people. Finding quick solutions requires quick-thinking. Delivering to short timescales requires people who can break down barriers, get others involved and who don’t taken "No" for an answer. Strong and effective leadership is required from the outset, so make sure that your quick-wins efforts are led by someone who is absolutely committed to achieving the outcomes and is prepared to “take the doors off” to get things done.

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Tags: Project management, Team building, leadership, PA Consulting, quick wins,

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