Insufficient User Input
NOTE: This is one of the most common project management challenges.
Often end users are not active project team members. Supervisors and managers provide input rather than employees that have day-to-day responsibility for the process at stake. Every manager or department has one member that is the “go to” person: the employee peers look to for guidance. This is the person that should be on the project team.
Another reason initiatives suffer from insufficient user input is that employees are not provided time away from their other responsibilities; as a result they cannot devote their full and complete attention to the project.
Outside consultants and technical developers are key members of project teams. But often they make assumptions if they do not understand the nuances of their clients’ businesses and the users’ needs.
Some projects focus on improving efficiency by simply automating the current process rather than improving it.
Senior management and project leaders must actively support user involvement throughout the project. If additional funding is necessary to back-fill front line employees it should be included in the project budget.
Knowledgeable end users should provide meaningful input during every phase of the project: requirements gathering, design, and testing.
Make sure outside consultants and technical developers understand the business environment and process flow as well as project success metrics. Invest time up front to have users demonstrate their challenges and why process change is necessary.
Avoid automating a broken process by encouraging users to look beyond how things have always been done and to focus on how things could be done better. End users are the most knowledgeable about their day-to-day work and can often point out where the current business process is lacking – but they may be reluctant to do so for fear of reprisal.
This is one of a series of posts on project management for finance professionals. The series features practical project management advice and tips for driving process change using technology. The series is archived here.