By Pierre Vassal, Managing Partner at ABONEO

What turns a business transformation project into success?

The success of a transformation project is a sensible combination of the following key elements: strong and supportive sponsor, complementary and engaged project team, structured and agile project methodology, business-oriented change management team, reliable innovative and ease to use software.

The backbone of a project

To make these elements interacting properly, the project spine or backbone must be strong. The spine here is the couple composed by the Sponsor and the Project Manager.

We are not talking here about tactical projects with no major business changes, nor about pure innovation project or startups where change is the essence of life.

We are talking here about companies implementing strategic business projects to transform their operations and to increase business execution excellence. These projects are transforming business department and sometimes the complete organization, which explain why change management is so important.

This kind of project is unique, by definition, bringing change and innovation to the organization. The business project manager / product owner implements these changes; the sponsor supports the project manager executing these changes and decides.

This spine is a must to successfully deliver project value and what happens if this tandem does not work properly?

– The project can simply stops, which is emotionally difficult for the project team, but may be positive to the organization, expressing a lack of project readiness or need,
– The project goes to the end, generally with high costs (human and financial) and delay, bringing  poor or negative value to the organization.

How to secure this tandem?

Sponsor and project manager must be complementary, trust each other and both in a position to take strong decisions and diffuse change management.

The project sponsor

The sponsor is generally the initiator of the project, built the vision.  The usual responsibilities of the sponsor are to:

  • proactively define the project’s objectives
  • be accountable for success
  • promote and defend the project
  • make the link between the project manager and senior management.
  • play a key role in communication (Upstream / Downstream) and Change Management
  • be a mentor, catalyst, motivator
  • help the project team to navigate within conflicts between managers and take decision

The business project manager

The project manager is responsible for delivering the project objectives. The usual responsibilities of the business project manager are to:

  • develop the project business case and plan
  • organize and initiate the project
  • build and manage the project team
  • communicate with project stakeholders and sponsor
  • manage the budget, schedule, risk, conflicts
  • organize and deploy the change management

In case of a business transformation project where change management is so important, the trust and good collaboration between sponsor and project manager are key to succeed.

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