Capitalizing on Success and Learning from Failure - Page 2

Mar 20, 2007

Patrick Gray

Ideally, a PMO-type organization will create this plan, and, in some cases, can actually carry out the closing process, since it must begin well before an implementation completes, and would place an unnecessary burden on line-level project managers.

With such a plan in place, instead of the post-project shuffle, everyone knows what they are expected to do before heading off for other opportunities. Their success should rest as much on their ability to close the project successfully as it did on reaching the go-live date in the first place.

Capturing Value

As a CIO, one of your key interests should be developing your people. HR is often an afterthought as an implementation nears its critical dates, creating much angst among employees wondering what will happen to their careers, regardless of whether the project is a success or failure.

In either extreme, there is a high risk that the new talents and experiences an employee may have garnered are tarnished based on the outcome of an implementation, or not documented in the rush to move to the next effort.

A manager’s actions during a failing project may demonstrate their leadership abilities far more dramatically than one who coasts through a textbook victory. Capturing these experiences and feeding them into the HR process is critical, and is an activity that should be one of the top tasks for the CIO as a large implementation nears its end.

The losses from failing to monitor the post-implementation process are even more acute than losing process documentation and any completed technical work, as some of your best people may be thrown out in the zeal to cleanse the organization’s palate after a bad implementation.

Build a Better Project

The intent of all these activities — capturing anything of value from an implementation that can be leveraged in a future project, closing a project efficiently and ensuring people are rewarded and their talents recognized independently of the status of a project — are all tools to make future implementations more successful.

Combining these efforts with a periodical review of past implementations that tracks them against their original business cases can improve an organizations ability to design projects and predict returns.

Combine this “post mortem” review with effective management of the closing process and you will capture additional value that is traditionally left untapped, especially in the case of a failed effort.

Getting to the finish line is only half the battle, capitalizing on success or learning from failure will give you a head start before the next implementation even begins.

Patrick Gray is the founder and President of Prevoyance Group, located in Harrison, NY. Prevoyance Group provides strategic IT consulting services. Past clients include Gillette, Pitney Bowes, OfficeMax and several other Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at

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