Embracing your project vision

Embracing your project vision

When embarking on a project, setting a project Vision sounds like the obvious way to start, but often organisations think that they already know what they want to achieve and how they want to do it.

Key reasons for project failure include:

  • Not involving the right people at the crucial, early planning stages and so failing to get project buy-in.
  • Allowing staff to think its an IT Project – which means they disengage and rely on technology not outcome.
  • Misaligned project delivery and aims – allowing activities which don’t achieve the Vision.
  • Lack of understanding or ambiguity about project purpose – inability to explain “so what?”
  • Lack of understanding on resource demands – “unofficial” projects that have been initiated through other channels may be perceived as being strategically unimportant, but leadership teams often have a limited understanding of what they are approving and may prioritise them as a major project. As a result, “unofficial” projects can be approved with no insight into how team’s capacity is already stretched thin by existing demands.
  • Setting a project Vision tackles each of these risks, serving as a focal point throughout the project for course-correction and success measurement.

Setting a Vision

Project Vision should focus on the reason why you are making the change, describing the direction of the business and its aims in the medium-to-long term.
A Vision is designed to be aspirational, describing where the business wants to be, not necessarily where the business currently is. It should explain what the business will deliver and the benefits to customers.

A Vision without Principles is just a statement of intent!

Underpinning the Vision are Principles which will guide the project. They are the qualifying characteristics that show how the business will progress towards and achieve that Vision. Principles are a set of guiding decisions which influence tactical planning by outlining what the business wants to achieve; they are there to hold the project to account and remind the team of the purpose

As they signify the need for change, it is essential that the Vision and Principles are created and/or influenced by the project team, as well as senior decision-makers. This maximises stakeholder buy-in and ensures that everyone is signed-up to and working towards the same goals. Principles should be clear and easy to understand, free from jargon or ambiguity.

Icebergs ahead!

It is also important to recognise that there may be Constraints which will impact the Vision. A Constraint is different to a challenge. Whilst a challenge signifies difficulty, it may not be impossible to overcome that difficulty. A Constraint, however, signifies an immovable limitation or restriction. Therefore, whilst budgets or resources may feel like a Constraint, they are in fact business challenges, because it may be possible to overcome them (e.g., via a Business Case). However, a statutory factor, such as compliance or regulatory boundaries, are usually fixed.

Understanding and documenting the Constraints in which the organisation or change must work is an important tool. It provides the business with the opportunity to plan around the Constraint and may also reduce the likelihood of encountering a risk later on in the project.

Shout from the rooftops

Burying documents in SharePoint or only sharing with senior staff will not ensure stakeholder buy-in. Instead, promote the outcomes of the time invested in this essential up-front activity. Think about engaging ways to do this; visuals, cartoons and diagrams resonate more easily with stakeholders and reinforce the Vision.

Once created, organisations should take time to guide staff through the Vision and explain what it means and how it will be used. Consider how you will check understanding and ensure staff are onboard and motivated.

Reap the benefits

Organisations sometimes struggle to explain or measure progress or success, but the Vision and Principles are the parameters for those measurements. During the project, use the Vision and Principles to carry out a project health-check:

  •  Are you achieving what you set out to do?
  • How are you realising the Vision?
  • What are the gaps?

At the end of your project use the Vision and Principles as part of the project’s Benefits Realisation stage.

Top tips for building a Vision

1. Involve everyone to maximise buy-in (don’t forget IT, but don’t let them take the lead).
2. Be aspirational in your Vision; set out what you want to achieve and how it will benefit your customers.
3. Choose guiding Principles that underpin the Vision to explain how it will be achieved.
4. Set ground rules that everyone signs up to and agrees to be accountable towards.
5. Recognise Constraints and plan for and adapt to challenges.
6. Promote, share, and use the Vision throughout the project.
7. Create quantifiable targets for Benefits Realisation.

Building a member focused Digital Strategy

Building a member focused Digital Strategy

Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) has been a driving force in the electrotechnical and engineering services industry since the Association’s formation in 1901. Over the years, ECA has been pivotal in improving industry standards and creating a sustainable business environment. Many organisations engage with ECA on an ongoing basis, often as part of their member and associate programmes.

The Challenge

ECA wanted to replace their core business systems across all functions of the organisation.

The Association is not operating in the most efficient way, impacting services provided to membership and profitability.​

The Solution

Equantiis challenged the approach of moving straight to replacing technology and proposed to develop a Transformation Strategy that focuses on member experience delivered through new technology.   ​

This included a Discovery phase, the output of which is a business case that outlines the current challenges and recommended solutions, along with a timescale, budget and resources required to successfully deliver the project.  This approach provided sufficient information to the ECA Board, so an informed decision on how to proceed can be made.

The Result

  • Project Vision and Principles for benefits realisation.
  • Membership experience optimisation.
  • Process Discovery to evaluate highly complex and valued processes for opportunity by re-engineering and/or automation.
  • Requirements gathering captured as User Stories with clear outcomes
  • Pre-market engagement to support a business case for replacement technology with indicative timings, budgets and resources.

Building a member focused Digital Strategy

Building a member focused Digital Strategy

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) was formed in 1908.  To this day, BASC remains the UK’s largest shooting membership organisation which supports all shooting interests and disciplines. BASC leads the defence of shooting with a strong and proactive policy to champion responsible live quarry shooting. As a result, BASC’s political credibility and public acceptance remain high.

BASC has around 155,000 members and 143 paid members of staff working for BASC across the UK, within their Head Office and Regions. It is run by a Council made up of elected members, co-opted members and ex-officio members of staff. The Council has the ultimate responsibility and accountability for the Association, which delegates operational management to the CEO.  

THE CHALLENGE

BASC had a number of ambitious targets to deliver against its strategy.  The highlights included increasing and retaining members, improving standards and driving operational efficiency. 

Over time BASC’s business systems had fallen short of requirements and failed to meet all of BASC’s business outcomes and objectives, along with the CRM and member portal coming to its end of life.  This resulted in lengthy manual processes, a lack of trust in data and forecasting which in turn delayed key business decisions being made.

Recognising that technology was only part of the challenge, BASC had acknowledged the need for a business transformation that would enable its overall objectives.

It was therefore important for this challenge not to be seen as a technology project but to build out a plan that focused on the wants and unmet needs of BASC’s members and stakeholders.

THE SOLUTION

BASC engaged Equantiis to help build a Member Centric Digital First strategy that would overcome these issues.

Using Equantiis proven methodology for delivering Digital Strategies, Equantiis carried out a series of tasks which included:

Customer Experience Mapping

Equantiis worked with the BASC Team, along with BASC members, to develop personas and task maps for key parts of the membership journey.

Each part of the journey highlighted the touchpoints involved and was awarded an emotional score to highlight a member’s positive and negative experience of the task journey and the opportunities to improve the internal processes which manage that member journey.

Critically this insight provided a good overview of root cause issues within the organisation which should be addressed as part of the strategy.

Operational Efficiency

Equantiis’ worked with BASC to discover the current business processes through each department.  This information was then used to highlight where improvements to the business processes could be made.  Equantiis worked with every part of the organisation to find out, why they do it, what the desired outcome was, the effort required, and systems involved.

This information was then input into the Equantiis efficiency calculator to identify where there was opportunity for improvement.

In doing so, Equantiis found that BASC could re-engineer some of their processes as well as leveraging technology to drive automation and efficiency that will increase membership experience.

Requirements Gathering

Equantiis met with all business functions and carried out a business systems requirement gathering exercise. This involved interviewing various stakeholders within the business and working through user story led prioritised requirements.

This culminated outputs built the BASC Digital Strategy that sets the context of the organisational challenges and objectives, giving background and context of the business’s requirements. Each user story explains how the requirement enables a business outcome.

Choosing a Technology Partner through Procurement

Equantiis ran a fully independent guided procurement process under an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) framework for a replacement CRM system and membership portal that will allow BASC to contract successfully to a fixed price implementation.​

The procurement was sent out to appropriate providers that focus on the membership sector using a variety of different technology platforms.  Following the procurement process, we shortlisted providers with a focus on “out the box” platforms.  ​

As part of this process, Equantiis prepared the Invitation to Tender (ITN), Supplier Briefing, Supplier Presentation day, facilitation of procurement with the BASC team and suppliers, review and scoring of responses, and due diligence to the point of partner selection and contract negotiation.  ​

The full procurement process had to be done rapidly and took around 5 weeks.

THE RESULT

Equantiis quickly mobilised a team to get this transformation project moving in order to deliver this end to end engagement within 6 months, in light of the compelling event that was fast approaching.

Working with the BASC teams, Equantiis was able to challenge the ‘always done it that way’ approach with automation being driven through the correct processes being supported by technology.

BASC are now able to realise the benefit of implementing an integrated CRM by focusing staff on high value activity, as well as situate processes in their rightful areas, integrate ways of working and sharing of information between functions to reduce the effect of siloes, better use of data and being more proactive.

By taking a member-centric and people-centric approach, first and foremost, to build a Digital Strategy, BASC view this as much wider than just an IT project and the insight given has provided valuable information for them to make positive changes.

Equantiis identified a number of process improvement opportunities, which has enabled BASC to make changes to some key processes to reduce time taken but also to reduce duplication of effort and building a better source for business intelligence that will give them more informed decision-making tools. This has freed up resource to focus on more value-added activities and improved member experience.  BASC has recognised the need to look at the culture of the organisation in order to make these improvements stick.

BASC now has a strategy that focuses on the value to the members and the outcomes now being delivered.  The roadmap of change will enhance the member experience and improve efficiency, which focuses on issues related to systems, process reengineering, member experience and culture as a foundation for growth.

By investing the time upfront to build out this strategy, the approach has prepared and allowed BASC to go out to market with a clear vision and scope of requirements that allows for a fixed price contract of the investment required.  In doing so, Equantiis has helped BASC with a speedy and robust procurement process to choose the right technology partner for them going forward.

Our independent approach to procure new solutions coupled with our understanding that this is more than just a CRM project meant that the BASC Board were able to sign off and commission the required transformation with confidence that the right questions and due diligence were covered.

Creating a Membership Strategy

Clear strategy for membership growth for the business to deliver against. 

The Challenge 


Our client is
 a global membership organisation with individual and organisation members who are either medical practitioners or those who support the aims of the Institute. 

Following a period of declining membership and engagement, our client needs  to stabilise and stop this trend.  With a strategic objective to grow their membership in a difficult economic climate, we were approached to help build out a strategy to support this objective. 

The strategy had to be built in a short period time and our client needed support to create a Membership Value Proposition (MVP) that was focused on the end customer. 

The Solution 

The first aspect of this work was to create a Vision and Principles (V&P) one pager that would guide the strategy and help the organisation to understand where they wanted to get to, whilst recognising the constraints faced.  The Vision and Principles are used throughout the strategy when decisions are made. 

Using the V&P, Equantiis helped develop the Membership Strategy by building an external then internal perspective: 

External View

Looking externally firstEquantiis helped our client to identify the core membership base, creating personas for three audience segmentations, both current and prospective members. Importantly their needs and unmet needs were captured, which form the overarching Value Proposition.   

Next,  member experience exercise was undertaken to unpick the way that members are currently serviced, identifying where challenges lie and the opportunities for improvement. 

The next part of the external view was to carry out a market analysis to explore competitor organisations’ offers and positioning.  This would then allow better understanding of how the current offering favoured within the marketand what new product development was required to meet the unmet member needs.  This was supported with commercial model and plan for launch. 

With the newly defined membership offer, Member Value Propositions (MVP) were created for each core audience segment.  Using this information, a member engagement plan was created for retention and acquisition campaigns. 

Internal View 

Armed with the relevant information about member need, Equantiis then built out the new pricing structuresimplifying the fee options, and developed new, fit-for-purpose fee options and discountsremoving legacy payment options that were no longer appropriate. 

With ambitious targets for growth, retention and acquisition target was modelled to support the business over the next five years.   

Using all of this analysis Equantiis built a Transformation Roadmap for the next three years, detailing the activities, budgets, resources and timelines ready for our client to successfully action against.