Mission Accomplished! The project is complete and now we transition to hypercare / warranty period / super support and sustainment.
Regardless of the buzzword you choose, every project focuses on ironing out the many wrinkles that come with a complicated change as they wind down the work.
So why run a readiness check?
If you are unfamiliar with the concept, readiness assessment involves determining if stakeholders feel ready to adapt to change. Throughout the course of project we use surveys and focus groups to get input on the following key questions:
- I believe this change is necessary.
- My managers support the change.
- My peers support the change.
- I know what to do.
- I am prepared for this change.
Through the project we expect to see ratings improve, culminating in top scores right before a transition occurs if we’ve done a stellar job of communicating and training.
But transitions never go exactly as expected. It’s only when new skills must be applied that we truly determine if we were prepared. Applying new systems, procedures, or a new org structure exposes gaps that weren’t anticipated beforehand. When things aren’t going well, it can seem too time-consuming to submit a formal request for help. Instead we turn to our peers for tips, shortcuts, workarounds, and the usual gripe session.
Opening a 2-way channel for stakeholder feedback enables the people most affected to tell us where it hurts. For at least two weeks after a transition point, I advise project team members to hold daily checkpoints between the project team and business representatives (change agents are great for this) to ensure issues ‘bubble up’ in real time. This reinforces the perception that the program is listening and ready to act (credibility).
In addition, my team checks in with stakeholders throughout the company to ask the above readiness questions in the past tense to determine where we need to offer more support, resolve conflicts, or update training.
Readiness before a transition does not guarantee you are actually ready. We don’t know exactly what it will take to climb the mountain until we begin.
When you are planning your readiness checks, once is not enough. Make sure they are feeling prepared both before and after.