By Kate McFarlane, Client Partner, Decision Inc. UK
In this final article examining the business advantages of an effective reporting strategy, the focus turns to measuring the success of a project. As part of this, attention must turn to the key elements required to make a project successful.
Fundamentally, the most successful implementations are those where the [implementation] team has partnered with the business users and are fully invested in the success of the implementation. In the connected world, the traditional silo approach is a thing of the past. Companies can ill afford not to have an integrated approach to projects irrespective of scale. This enables them to fully understand the organisational requirements as well as the roles and activities of the users. It then becomes easier to examine the use case behind each report and analytical element as well as the ‘real’ maturity behind the technology resident in the company.
And when it comes to something as integral to a business as reporting and analytics, the number of projects will not only increase, but have higher investment value and become even more vital for the success of the company. This is even more so the case with several innovative technologies at the disposal of decision-makers. Think artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Thing all leading to the explosion of data in the organisation.
But before even considering how to measure the success of a project, an organisation requires two essential elements – top management support and user participation. Those projects that include these human-driven determinants have been proven to benefit immensely from the positive influence they bring.
Management to the fore
It is critical that the project is aligned to the broader company strategy. Thus, senior management need to set the objectives of project and keep steering it in the correct direction. The willingness of senior management to allocate their time and resources to encourage the development and use of data and transformation, play a critical role in contextualising the project objectives.
Of course, support goes beyond resourcing and scoping a project and includes the active participation and involvement in them. For example, this can range from attending all necessary meetings to having regular information conversations with the project leadership team. This investment shows employees that management is taking the project seriously and they are more than likely to follow the example set by leadership.
Management commitment and involvement are critical to remove any obstacles, resolve conflict issues, and ensure the alignment of all associated stakeholders towards a common goal. Those managers involved in successful projects understand the importance of user involvement, interdepartmental collaboration, and constant communication.
Users join in
Building from here, user participation or involvement at an early stage has been shown to positively influence acceptance of the project solution, resulting it in being used more frequently and leading to improved satisfaction in doing so.
It almost goes without saying that getting user participation is fundamental to the success of any project. Each stakeholder brings their own experience and insights and become vital to co-create a design that will meet organisational requirements. However, this participation is closely linked to management support. If that is lacking, there is likely to be an inappropriate allocation of departmental users to participate in significant project activities.
Getting it done
When all these stakeholders work together, they can better ensure the requirements are fully implemented while understanding the role of the project as part of the company strategy. Furthermore, they can present the information (especially from a reporting perspective) in a manner that assists the users in the decision-making process. Much of this revolves around getting the right information at the right time that fits into the expectations of the business user.
For example, a manufacturing manager that is based in the manufacturing plant requires real-time information of the plant operations. This must be easy to access on their phone or tablet with a dashboard that can illustrate the appropriate green/orange/red indicators and associated notifications when plant operations change status allowing for agile decision-making.
Another example is an analyst sitting behind a computer requiring access to detailed data and self-service tools. These allow for statistical modelling and ETL processes and well as a business intelligence component for analysis and investigation. Each stage of the reporting framework needs to be considered for effective implementation of the reporting strategy.
Successful projects are therefore a combination of the right technology, senior management support, and active user participation. Without these elements, very few projects can deliver the return on investment required.