Driving Successful Implementations Through Participant Readiness


We have all heard the phrases herding cats, pushing treacle upstairs and nailing jelly to the wall to describe the position of a general lack of coalesced direction across a number of different individuals or organisations. However, do we ever reflect on how often we are possibly the source of the problem?

Airwalk have been involved in a number of large cross industry technology implementations where the overall success of go live is driven by the readiness of all end users from unconnected 3rd party organisations within the same sector, for example Financial Services, to adopt the service on the same day. A key aspect to ensuring success has been rigorous deployment of “Participant Readiness”.

So what does Participant Readiness look like?

Well, it’s not rocket science but it is very easy to get wrong. We have found success with our clients through careful planning and implementation activity which ensures there is stakeholder buy-in across the community of participants and the right visibility across all programme preventing last minute issues and delays.

One approach to this can be broken down into 5 distinct areas:

1. Acquire your champions

Identify the right people — the key stakeholders within each participant organisation to be the main conduit for Participant Readiness.
Having a single point to understand all readiness activities and to own the coordination and reporting removes any ambiguity from delivery requirements.

2. Establish a simple way of being on the same page

It is critical in ensuring everyone is on the same journey to identify key milestones and stage gates across the programme. Typically these may focus on design, build, test, go live and operational readiness activities (such as training, procedural updates etc). It is absolutely vital to create a clear definition of the expected success criteria for each milestone and a common reporting template to ensure that progress can be provided and tracked in a simple and consistent manner.

3. Share the journey with all organisations

Provide all organisations with a common view of the readiness activities that they are responsible for. By clearly articulating the success criteria and the reporting requirements / frequency you not only get the information to track effectively but you also create a sense of commonality and single community, Whilst communicating with all key stakeholders drives understanding which leads to success.

4. Understand what you are reading

Different organisations will provide information in different ways and with different understanding or intent. Initially this may not be obvious but after several reporting cycles and feedback sessions, the different styles will become apparent. Another key aspect of success is being able to engage to make changes to their information style or to ensure you have a method of interpretation ensuring commonality with the rest of the community.

5. Engage on a 1-to-1 basis

Managing things at a community or macro level is essential but equally maintaining a 1-to-1 relationship with each participant is important too. Sessions with the participant stakeholder to discuss the report for their organisation should held on a regular basis and the frequency flexed dependent upon the phase of the programme to ensure relevance. The purpose of the meetings are to validate the report, look for warning signs and understand in greater depth what challenges may be affecting them and how this could impact on the programme. Any concerns can then be fed back through the relevant governance forums within the programme and shape mitigating actions.

At Airwalk, this approach has helped to minimise programme impacts and delays by identifying problems at participant organisations, at an early stage and enabled the whole community to go-live as a single coordinated event.

Our clients trust us to manage these engagements, often seamlessly embedded as part of their team, developing strategies and approaches specifically for their industry sector or solution whilst supporting their success.

One of the biggest reasons for programme failure is poor communication closely followed by ineffective stakeholder management.