Continuing on the bridge analogy...
Many federal organizations (including OMB and GAO), see big system implementations as high-risk events with low probability of success-- and, unfortunately, for good reason. These commonly held beliefs are based on many (most?) preceding efforts. It's almost difficult to find and cite an implementation that went well or even uneventfully according to plan.
The good news is that lessons learned regarding planning and system integration have been adopted and, more recently, federal organizations are reaching their “Go Live” targets dates with fewer bumps and bruises.
However, the question still remains on what has been gained for the significant investment of time, effort, and funding. In sum, big system changes promise to centralize an organization’s functions and improve accuracy and ability to make timely business decisions. But in reality, many federal program managers report that, post-implementation, daily operations got worse, not better!
This is a disappointing outcome but one that can be proactively planned for an avoided when an organization seizes the opportunity think beyond the system impacts and embraces the needed organizational enhancements that go hand-in-hand with the new system.
So, as agencies approach the final implementation milestones on the master schedule, I think it’s helpful to think through the next steps. Now that the system is in place, how do we optimize the functionality and live up to the promise? A couple of ideas to get started…
Enhance Business Intelligence - Generate meaningful reports that highlight past performance and can serve to identify business patterns that will, in turn, drive decision making up the chain
Follow Through on Communications - Produce a consistent message to the end-users of their expectations and business roles as well as where they "fit in the puzzle" so they are not operating in a silo-like environment where what they do has no impact
Optimizing Operations- Assess how processes can be continually evaluated for streamlining and improvement. Train the user community with the intention that they not only learn how to get their job done but that they also get the "big picture"
Increase Operational Agility - Emphasize that a piece of the change management puzzle includes the development of "well rounded" workforce. (i.e. knowledge transfer of critical operations information from a "single point of failure" to a group of workers)