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Key reasons for project failure include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
At the end of your project use the Vision and Principles as part of the project’s Benefits Realisation stage.
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