Setting up for success

facilities managers gather around a whiteboard working to set goals

Anticipating the launch of a new system can be incredibly exciting. The promise of creating sustainable change is something facilities managers thrive on.

Planning the implementation of a new system can be daunting. But by underpinning your plan with a few fundamentals, you can set your project up for success.

Clear goals and objectives

The first step in any project, is working with your stakeholders to ensure you have a clear definition of success. Making sure everyone is on the same page in terms of the potential outcomes of the project, is critical to setting up for success.

Set SMART goals

When setting goals for your project, ensure those goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.

Setting goals within the SMART framework helps to manage stakeholder expectations, and get everyone on the same page.

For example, you might set a goal to improve resolution time for work orders. To ensure this goal fits into the SMART framework, you could tweak it slightly to align stakeholders definitions of success.

If we amend this goal to fit into the SMART framework, it could read “reduce time to resolution on work orders by 10% over the next six months”.

By reframing the same goal, you can be sure that all your stakeholders know exactly what the expectation is.

Remember that SMART goals are both achievable and realistic.

What is achievable and realistic depends on where you are in your journey, and the resources you have available. These definitions of success won’t look the same for everyone, and that’s ok!

If your project sees you working with an external vendor, leverage their expertise. They’ve likely worked through these same challenges, multiple times, so can help to give an idea of what is achievable, and realistic.

Collaboration, communication and visibility

Effective collaboration is essential to the success of a project involving multiple people. Ensuring everyone has access to the right information, at the right time, is critical to enabling the best possible decisions.

Stakeholders on the same page

Once you have clearly defined your goals for your project, ensure these goals are visible and reinforced for stakeholders. Consult stakeholders during the goal setting process to obtain additional buy in and reinforce these goals in project updates.

Everyone involved in the project will require a level of visibility to ensure the project’s success. With improved visibility, you can encourage collaboration between stakeholders. This collaboration, when conducted in an open, honest and productive way can help to encourage innovative problem-solving.

By having visibility over all tasks, team members can come together to find a solution when one might be held up. This visibility also means that if a team member has to take a step back from the project for any reason, the entire project isn’t halted in their absence.

WIPs for the win

Frequent, informative updates can help to keep stakeholders engaged with your project. Whatever channel you choose to communicate with your stakeholders through, ensure it lends itself to frequent updates.

Frequent updates, showing stakeholders the project’s progression, can help keep them engaged and invested. The more engaged your stakeholders are, the more support you’re able to maintain over the life of the project.

There are no hard and fast rules as to how often, or how much to communicate. However, rarely do we see situations of too much communication.

Tools such as Kanban boards can help to provide stakeholders with a mechanism to self-serve information, however don’t replace proactive communications.

Identify key points warranting broader updates, and schedule time to send these out. Even if there’s not much to update, maintain the cadence of communications to improve stakeholder engagement.

Whether it’s a weekly email or fortnightly meeting, determine the cadence that works for you and your stakeholders. When coming up with your project plan, ensure you have time for these communications built in.

Focus on the fundamentals

As the saying goes, you’ve got to walk before you can run. Setting solid foundations for any project is pivotal to its success.

Have a plan

Having a plan for your project will help keep you on track, avoid scope creep, and make sure you have the right resources available to you at the right time.

Some organisations require a high level of project governance, which may require engaging a professional project manager.

Some organisations will require a formal plan following a defined project methodology. Other organisations require a more flexibile approach, so consider the needs of your business. 

Consult with your vendor to ensure the plan has the elements and structure to reach your desired outcomes.

Setting strong foundations

Spending time up front on the structural elements of your project, like data quality and process improvement will help set your project up for success.

In the case of implementing facilities management software, these tasks can include things like data cleansing, auditing and process/policy reviews. There’s a good chance these are tasks you don’t undertake regularly. This is another example of when it is beneficial to leverage the expertise of your chosen vendor or supplier.

Working with a team who do this foundational work every day, helps to ensure that no stone is left unturned. A thorough approach, enabled by expertise and experience, helps to set your project up for long-term success.