Planning with an Approach

Advices to Programme Directors, Change Agents & Business Sponsors 

When embarking on delivering business and/or technology transformation, Business leaders need a plan to mobilise. In most cases, businesses will endeavour to develop a “roadmap” that enables everyone to clearly understand each activity and what decisions need to be made, who needs to make them and when. The roadmap is translated into a project plan, specifying the nature of work in each of the associated phases of definition, construction, implementation and beyond.

There are many steps to go through in order to create a solid executable plan. This is sometimes lost on business leaders and managers who need to determine where the organisation, department or team needs to go. With the rise of disruptive digital technology and the pressure to remain competitive and customer centric, timelines are increasingly being compressed and there is a rush to get new products and solutions delivered in accelerated ways. Unfortunately a quick planning fix is not always the best solution. There are times when you need to step back and do proper planning and implementation in order to create greater business success. Otherwise, there are huge risks that will hinder and hamper success.

No plan will work without a clear and understandable approach. Before attempting to raceahead to the finishing line, take time to think before you act. Having thousands of lines in a gantt chart or project plan may present the perception that you are in control but this may cause confusion leading resources unable to see the wood from the trees and, worse, work harder rather than smarter.

Planning with an Approach

With this in mind, an approach will typically enable you to 

  • Align goals of the organisation
  • Provide focus and direction for employees 
  • Communicate a single company vision from top to bottom
  • Identify areas of common interest and synergy
  • Present a direction to suppliers, partners and customers
  • Outline key objectives for managers
  • Identify key interdependencies (and potential risks/issues)
  • Promote cross functional integration and alignment
  • Improve communication
  • Provide management control
  • Help to identify short cuts i.e. areas which maybe fast tracked, de-prioritised or deferred
  • Project a common vision about changes to people, processes and technology 

All of the above are not reflecting in project plans and will allow the transformation journey to come to life for all participants.

An 8-step Plan for Transformation

Once a consensus has been agreed and the approach finalised, it will be important to focus on EIGHT (8) key activities

  1. Identify a visionary i.e. a high level respected sponsor
  2. Establish a key leadership group (i.e a ‘war cabinet’) to develop actionable plans and support good communication
  3. Agree the timeline for executing the approach and achieving the transformation vision 
  4. Build an experienced and high powered team capable of planning/architecting and implementing change (this may include key individuals from 3rd party suppliers and agencies)
  5. Select appropriate technologies and services (e.g. Testing, Integration, etc.)
  6. Develop visual roadmaps and establish strategic, tactical and operational plans (leveraging waterfall/agile/hybrid techniques)
  7. Ensure there are mechanisms in place to win ‘hearts and minds’
  8. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!!!

Going the Distance

And finally, it is important, with the support of the ‘war cabinet’ to go the distance

While making sure the senior management team is prepared is important, you must make sure all of the people are prepared for the implementation of the strategic, tactical and operational plans. 

You need to continue to implement your plan and use it on a regular basis (as you agreed in your execution planning). You made it this far, so go the distance. Make it work. Make the investment that will keep your plan alive. Use it in your meetings, reference it, test your people on it and make adjustments as needed.  No business leader or champion stops at the starting gate — they take what they’ve learned, agreed to, and developed, and they put it into real life practice. You need to do the same.

Enjoy the ride .. it may have its ups and downs and dark moments but getting to the finishing line is definitely worth it. 

Good luck!  



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