Whether you’ve just started implementing enterprise projects or have been working on them for 20 years, it’s never a bad time to start reflecting on the lessons you’ve learned from first-hand involvement.
Such projects – and we know this from the enterprise digital signage projects we’ve done – are both a difficult and complicated aspect and can be a make or break for cementing your business as being capable.
We have over a decade of experience in enterprise digital signage projects and through our successes and failures have compiled the top 10 lessons we’ve learned:
1. Change is simple but not easy
Ideas on paper sometimes don’t translate well to practical implementation.
The rigidity from business to business can vary greatly and it’s important to keep an open mind on how malleable a company is to change.
Smaller businesses usually have an easier time adjusting to big changes while large and complex organizations will be more rigid.
The most important aspects of implementing change are to define what must change, articulate why the change must occur, and focus on your plan for implementing the necessary changes.
2. Know your team
The team you assemble is the lifeblood of implementing your enterprise projects. You must know their strengths and weaknesses individually as well as when they are working as a team.
Being a good implementer is more than being a hard worker, you must also have great personal skills as well as the ability to build a good rapport with all levels of an organization. Having a good relationship with your teammates will help through the most challenging aspects of implementation.
It’s also crucial to involve all team members in the project, way before you reach out to the vendor to evaluation different products and solutions. All team members – user groups, backup user groups, purchasing team, department heads – need to be on the same page about every aspect of the implementation before you start discussions with vendors.
3. Involve all Stakeholders all of the time
Your stakeholders will be everyone who has an interest in your enterprise project implementation.
From assistants to senior management, make sure each level is being constantly updated via the communication tool provided to you (e.g. slack).
We recommend at the very least weekly meetings as you get closer to the actual implementation so your work will be less impeded and able to catch and fix hiccups much earlier. In addition, you need to have a champion that leads the project.
We have had multiple instances where the user group is involved AFTER the purchase – their expectations of the solution end up being different and this slows down the implementation.
4. Crawl before you run
Your project scope should define, articulate, and identify the changes needed.
Start with a very detailed doc outlining the current challenges and intended outcomes (i.e. how the solution will solve this). Ensure collaboration is possible on this doc so as to get all perspectives from the different users – what IT will need, what the communication team needs, what purchasing needs, what operations needs etc.
The project scope should be finalized and approved before discussions with vendors.
Once approved, you need to “start small.” This means identifying the critical requirements first i.e. the core aspects of your implementation that everything else relies on.
Then try to complete the smallest and easiest to implement of your critical features – hopefully, these are changes you can start making internally before involving vendors. In other words, this is an internal pilot that will give you a good idea of your team’s capabilities so you can plan for the next steps accordingly.
5. Pilot Pilot Pilot
Your first implementation should be the pilot test.
In the case of enterprise digital signage projects, start your installation in one location or building. The data acquired from your pilot will create a good baseline for how the technology performs and how the rest of the implementation should go.
Once done, you can begin your next implementations in phases e.g. first 20 installations, then the next 30 installs etc. Phasing enables you to set a good pace and allows your team to adjust to any changes encountered during the rest of your implementation.
Successful pilots also help to build team morale – it gives your team a small victory to celebrate.
6. Staffing issues can happen at any time
The resource availability, capacity, and capability of your team can change in a moment’s notice.
As a critical aspect of your team’s overall performance, your staffing resources should always be at the back of your mind during all stages of your implementation.
You should always start off by addressing the gaps that need to be filled before you even start your project’s inception. After, you should keep constant notes on how your team is responding to the stress of implementation and hire or allocate team resources as needed.
7. Stay ahead of the curve
During implementation, you should be actively thinking about your project’s goal.
We understand that the day-to-day aspects of managing an enterprise project can be overwhelming and it’s easy to fall into monotony.
This can be alleviated by employing a checklist (which should be created when preparing your project scope) and using it to keep a good track on your project’s deadlines.
By seeing how your team meets these internal goals, you can learn from your current project’s successes and failures then plan accordingly.
8. Be prepared for the unforeseen
One aspect of implementing an enterprise project comes directly from experience. From our failures in previous projects, we’ve discovered that abrupt or unexpected change can come out of the blue that you didn’t plan for.
This can startle even the most experienced project manager but can be alleviated by good planning before your implementation begins. You need to allocate a small budget and time for to take care of mishaps as you move along the project implementation.
9. Failure will always be a possibility
A great man once said that it is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.
In our experiences in enterprise digital signage projects, we have discovered that this rings true again and again. If you keep excellent notes and maintain a good relationship with your team and clients, you will their trust. Learning from these failures is what differentiates a good project manager from an amazing one.
10. Learn how to learn
We understand how easy it is to fall into habits. After all, if it’s worked in the past, why shouldn’t it work in the future.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, we live in such a fast-changing world that sometimes the old and reliable methods just don’t stand up against the test of time. Every enterprise project you implement will have positive and negative feedback.
Expanding your knowledge with different techniques is the best way to stand at the forefront of your field and knowing how to approach projects in different ways will be one of the most useful tools in your belt.
Enterprise projects are a complex and engaging aspect of implementation. But by listening to those who have the experience, and always keeping an open mind, you can adapt to any challenges that come your way.
To drill down further into these 10 lessons, and for those who prefer visuals over text, join our webinar on June 24th, 2020 at 2pm ET (11am PT). If you can’t attend, register anyway and we’ll send you a recording.