W hen starting the process to establish an SOW management program with a client, I focus my attention on defining:
· What is the business value the client expects to achieve?
· What does success look like?
· What is the major impact that should be achieved through SOW management?
If you’re thinking that business value, success, and major impact mentioned above are the same, you’re partly right — these three terms represent different perspectives on a client’s desired outcomes for an SOW program. To avoid program tunnel vision that focuses only on one simple objective or target and missing the key targets for your stakeholders, its important to understand what a successful, future-state program looks like from your stakeholder’s perspective.
The challenge often faced by new SOW programs is that stakeholders may have a difficult time articulating the kind of detailed program expectations necessary to develop and deliver a successful solution. Often, stakeholders — a client’s leaders and key decision makers — may have little knowledge of or expertise regarding SOW management, best practices, or value opportunities. In fact, many of these stakeholders may be mistaken in their views of program opportunities.
So, what do you do? Recognizing the problem is the first step. As the SOW program management solutions provider, you must help your stakeholders visualize a future state where the program is truly successful to them. To reach this point, ask them to describe what their ultimate future-state program looks like. How are they using the program? What benefits does the program provide for them? How will the program enable them to make decisions or help them make better decisions? In other words, have them articulate what business value the program will deliver to them – from their perspective. Ask them to describe what success looks like to them. What will their major impact be once you’ve achieved their future state?
The trap we often fall into with stakeholders is fully describing the future state solution for them, complete with processes, policies, change management, ways of working, tools, and project savings or value to be delivered. The impact of making these decision is that it sets boundaries for discussion with stakeholders and essentially frames their responses using the language of your program team.
A better approach is one that encourages the stakeholders to describe – in their own way – the ideal future state of a program that delivers every imaginable business value. Ask them to describe a fully successful program without the traditional notions about what can be achieved. Rather, focus on what should be done, even if it resembles a wish list that can be delivered only by using a magic wand.
This approach yields more program outcomes described in stakeholder terms from a stakeholder perspective. The challenge for the program team is to translate this future-state program into actions, configurations, deliverables, and processes — into the language of an executable program. The beauty of allowing the stakeholders to set the vision is that once you deliver the program outcomes clearly recognizable to them, demonstrating success becomes easy.
Beeline welcomes this guest post from our partner, Geometric Results. This post represents GRI’s opinions and not necessarily those of Beeline.