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There are many programmes that have the most fantastic design but end up being a piece of paper or a document in a laptop.  McKinsey and Company in conjunction with Oxford University ran a study in 2012 5,400 large scale IT projects with a budget $15 M plus.  17% were disastrous that they threatened the companies’ existence.  45% were over budget, 7% over time and 56% delivered less value then predicted.  This raises many questions on ROI, but that will be for another blog.  When I assess what was missing there were two key things:

  • Clear objectives.  That includes going beyond the politics and being clear and honest about what the objectives are, and synergyies with other departments.  Too often projects can start as a HR or IT initiative not engaging the managers.  This topic I have discussed in a previous blog.
  • People and change.  IBM researched a sample of 1,500 change management executives.  They identified the biggest barriers to success as people factors: Changing mindsets and attitudes – 58%. Corporate culture – 49%.  Lack of senior management support – 32%.

The communication and engagement plan with excellent execution should be a major tool in people and change, to get buy in and deploy the programme.  Right from the analysis phase of the project the communications and engagement should be designed. In my last role for some reason the communications department said I was the only person to do this, and I had to question why?

To share the main structure I find useful, and just KISS Keeps It Simple Stupid:

  • When – the date set the dates in lien with the project plan.  There may be different dates for different audiences in order to start to get input, gain influence and in buy in.
  • Who – The who is derived form your stakeholder map
  • What – The what should just be a summary of the bullet point or points that you want to communicate
  • Why – The reason for this message this gives you the objective that you want to achieve
  • Message – This provides more information to the what on what the actual message is
  • Medium  - are the channel/s that you wish to use to communicate.  The appropriateness of channels needs to be taken into account, as well as sometimes a mix of messages.  Not forgetting newer possible forms of communication like social media where appropriate.  Or less formal dialogue: corridor conversations and workshops are powerful mediums for one to one or one to many communcations.
  • Owner - The person responsible to deliver the message.

That’s it.  It is so basic but for some reason often forgotten.  The communications and engagement plan works in co-ordination with other tools like a project charter and stakeholder map.   It is not a single entity.  Essentially an idea, concept or strategy needs to be taken from paper on a desk or a document in a laptop to a living-breathing program.

So how do we do that for the significant number of projects that fail?  KPMG reports out of the companies they interviewed a staggering 70% had a project failure in the last year! Let’s understand why and learn from mistakes.

  • Have people on your team that challenge to make sure the objectives are clear, that all synergies are understood.
  • Have people on your team that motivate, inspire and engage with the stakeholders throughout the organisation.
  • Have people on your team that can check the detail, ensure things are completed, delivered and follow up on ROI.
  • Have someone on your team that has the ability to really make it live and breath, and a communications and engagement plan is just one tool.

Any questions please connect http://www.linkedin.com/in/chantelleedwards

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