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System Implementation – can the success of the All Blacks teach us anything?

The All Blacks are famed to be the most successful sports franchise of all time. They have won more games of rugby than the Brazilians have won football. What makes them so successful and can their recipe be applied to system implementations?  

Through many project deliverables we have seen the following success factors being key to a great implementation:

The Goal – many players have turned down the big dollars overseas just to play for the jersey.  To get the opportunity to pull on that jersey is a unified goal for many promising young rugby players. Just like the jersey is to the All Blacks; a common uniting goal is great motivation for the team. It is important have that purpose and to communicate the why.

Decisions need to be made – Good governance along with accountability, ownership and most importantly the ability to get decisions made can have a substantial impact on project progress. Scrum vs. kick? Someone must make the call and make it quick so the team can keep on playing, the team also need to know who that person is.

Quality is always important – people want to be part of a skilled team, a great plan, and quality deliverables. The sense of achievement when this happens can be very motivating. The 1959 All Blacks scored six penalties to win 18-17 against the British and Irish Lions. Although a win, it was deemed the saddest victory ever. Quality is important, especially through the delivery of a rich experience for the end user, anything substandard is not really a win.  Quality also applies to your resource profile. Compromise on skillset brings compromise to the delivery. The old adage that ‘you can’t throw resources at a project to fix it’ still stands. A team of players that can kick for points but can’t get over the line may not deliver the right outcome.

Time pressure is good – The All Blacks have always had the pressure of expecting to win. In the years prior to their 2011 world cup win, they were known as the chokers. A great deal of emphasis was placed on developing a team that could perform under pressure. How people deal with issues, solve problems, and bring flexibility are important considerations to getting a team in place that can cope with the pressure of a tight timeline. Work also fits the time, and the benefit of a tight timeline is that it creates focus by not allowing it to shift elsewhere. 

Don’t overbake the test phase – You can test for two weeks or two months, but just like the warmup session – you want to ensure you expend just enough energy so you are well prepped for game time. Testing is important and should not be overlooked, but too much time spent in this phase can dilute the focus, resulting in wasted time and effort. A strong test plan with a targeted risk-based approach can help determine the appropriate time.

A busy go-live date – many tend to avoid the business busy times for a go-live.  If appropriate risk mitigants are in place to manage, a busy period can really force a stress test of the system whilst all eyes are on it. Go-live is a time for project resources, SMEs, and technical support to really prioritise their efforts. There is no doubt there will be post go-live issues, but with focus and the right resources, there is opportunity to flesh out the defects and get them resolved quickly. Just like game time, if a player goes down, you want to make sure the team physio and doctor are on the sideline.  A busy go-live does not mean forcing many different changes in at one time. It is best to avoid go-live dates that conflict with other system implementations. If something does go wrong, sometimes it can be hard to determine root cause, or problems can be compounded especially if shared infrastructure is the issue.

Successful implementation is not just about a well thought out plan. Timelines, the right resources, and project support through good governance are important. And if you are really looking for that added extra when it comes to success factors, you need to find your haka. A project team that is respectful, connected, and energised by the vision is bound to deliver world cup results.

If your firm is planning a future system implementation and needs some help, please contact us to discuss.  Shoreline has 10+ years of experience in implementing front and middle office solutions. We can offer a range of services from program planning to hands on implementation to complement your internal team.

For more information, please contact us.

Liana Mackay
Managing Consultant

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