Technology is crucial for the delivery of a good Customer Experience. No doubt all Customer Experience Programs today include a technology enablement, implementation or integration project.
But despite trends around methods like Agile or Scrum (that try and make things more efficient and effective) the success in technology projects is limited – at best people get it done with loads of hassle; often they fail to achieve what they set out to do.
I believe the problem lies on the mix between wrong cultures and the use of legacy approaches to IT projects – where people make big plans from the outset, and then take things in a linear or sequential way (similar to what you would see in Waterfall).
These approaches rely on people making estimations (for timelines and costs) that reach horizons that they cannot see, and are usually far-fetched (as people simply cannot envision the next 3, 4, 5 or 6 months).
The business decides what they want (which is not necessarily what they need or is feasible). To avoid being seen as the party-wreckers IT teams (solution architects, developers, project managers) tend to give the customary nod and optimistic estimates.
What they cannot see (despite falling into that trap hundreds of times!) is that those promises (around timelines and costs for the technology enablement project) become set in stone, and set certain expectations.
It usually doesn’t take long until the project is delayed or stalled, the scope is creeping, and things are going over-budget. But rather than flagging things earlier, there is a tendency to sweep it under the rug.
It’s not until things get to a point of no-return that the project team sees themselves on the cliff-edge, and finally breaks the news – there is no way they will be able to deliver the project on time and budget.
The Business Sponsor needs to make a decision:
- bury more time and money;
- deploy incomplete (and potentially buggy) technology platform;
- bring the whole project to a halt.
None of these options is positive. Actually all of them will have a significant negative impact on:
- Employee Experience – will feel frustrated and incompetent; will see their time and hard work wasted; will put morale down.
- Customer Experience – if external customer, will suffer with a broken (or less than optimal) experience; if internal customer, will lose trust in business/IT capabilities.
In a technology-enablement project, there are at least 6 instrumental factors for success:
- Pragmatism, when it comes to discuss feasibility and investment appraisals;
- Realism, when it comes to set and manage people’s expectations;
- Focus, when it comes to design and plan the approach;
- Collaboration, when it comes to get things done, and push it forward;
- Transparency, when it comes to managing the project, risks and issues;
- Courage, when it comes to decision-making.