Step 1: Get the technology project team’s buy-in.
Whether you’re implementing new software or improving an existing system, project team members must understand why the organization is investing in the initiative. Besides buying into the project’s goals, they must also see the benefits. What’s in it for them and their department? If they see how this endeavor will benefit them, they’re more likely to be engaged.
A lack of buy-in is a common technology project pitfall. Without a clear vision for success, team members struggle to understand why they're being asked to provide such a substantial amount of time. Even worse, if team members are hostile towards the change, your project’s chances of success are slim.
Step 2: Discuss the level of commitment required.
When a staff member is asked to join a technology project team—or informed that they’re on the team—the project manager or project sponsor must describe (to the best of their ability) the level of involvement required. We’re talking here primarily about the amount of staff time required during a technology project. Take into account time spent on status meetings and calls, as well as requirements gathering discussions, strategic discussions, user acceptance testing, SOP development, and training.
Step 3: Position participation as an opportunity.
Two possible trains of thought go through a person’s mind when asked to join a technology project team: they see it as either a burden or an opportunity. Help them see the project experience as a career opportunity. Discuss the many positive benefits, for example, influencing the direction of the product, improving leadership skills, and gaining valuable project experience that can be applied to all kinds of future initiatives.
Step 4: Convince business owners to embrace ownership.
The project manager for technology projects is often someone in the IT department. But, the business owners of the new or upgraded technology—the ones who will ultimately be the power users—often assume that the project is in IT's domain and, therefore, IT’s responsibility. They rely on IT to do everything: communicate the requirements, conduct the testing, etc.
The business owners of the application need to be just that: the owners. The sooner they embrace this role, the better off the team (and organization) will be. By taking ownership, they’ll have a better understanding of the technology’s functionality and benefits. They will be power users from the beginning, helping to facilitate training for their department rather than making IT take on that responsibility.
Step 5: Clearly outline project team roles and responsibilities.
Technology project team members must understand what’s being asked of them from the start. A RACI chart can help outline their individual roles and responsibilities. You want to avoid having anyone become the proverbial "go-to" person—a sign that others aren’t being utilized the way they should, and a leading indicator of burn out and fatigue. If that go-to project team member leaves the organization, the project inevitably will be delayed as others attempt to pick up the slack.
Step 6: Stress the need to be open-minded about change.
Staff are asked to join a technology project team for their subject matter expertise, not to simply recreate the system already in place. We frequently see project teams stuck in a “currently the system does X” frame of mind. Change is not easy. Resistance to change is one of the biggest impediments to a successful project. One key to overcoming change resistance is to focus on the What, not the How.
Step 7: Encourage collaboration.
You’ve heard countless clichés about teamwork. But, you know what? They exist because there’s truth to them. Within successful project teams, you’ll find trust and the ability to collaborate. As a project manager or project sponsor, it’s rewarding to see team members come together on their own to offer solutions for the betterment of the organization rather than their own silo.
Every project and every team has its unique characteristics. But, it’s important to understand and be mindful throughout the project—but especially at the onset—of the traits of a successful project team. Having a reliable, stable team will help your organization navigate the inevitable and surmountable adversities of any technology project.
Successful technology projects are managed by experienced, independent advocates. Learn about DelCor project management.