You’ve just introduced a new HR/payroll system, but the results have been underwhelming. This is maybe not even the first time you’ve been disappointed by a project – in fact, it could be considered the norm. There are future project phases on the horizon, perhaps they will go better. Sound familiar?
Like the saying goes, hope is not a strategy. The scene depicted here is all too common. Some organizations unfortunately do not have a good track record when it comes to project execution. The reasons are varied: lack of project definition, overly aggressive schedule, too few resources, too many competing priorities, fluid scope, incomplete requirements, haphazard testing approach and more.
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to gain a better understanding of potential challenges or concerns is to conduct a post-implementation audit. If done properly, you will likely see significant ROI on this effort.
How to conduct a post-implementation audit
The concept is very straight forward. Start by interviewing team members, sponsors and stakeholders to gauge what part of the system implementation was a success and what fell flat. Just as important is to elicit their insight on the process as a whole to learn why the project had this particular outcome. If you conduct enough interviews, patterns start to emerge.
You also need to look at project artifacts, as they tell a story of their own. However, it’s not enough to review the artifacts that exist; you must also acknowledge the artifacts that could have been created but were not. In combination, the interviews and artifacts will invariably allow you to identify the root causes that undermined your projects.
When organizations attempt to conduct an audit in-house, it is occasionally the case that participants are not completely cooperative and honest for fear of potential repercussions. Beyond this conflict of interest, your internal team may not have enough experience with successful projects to know what to look for. That’s why the results of post-implementation audits facilitated by project teams can be highly unreliable.
Finding the right support
This is where an outside expert can be the answer. By definition, an outsider has no vested interest in the results of the audit. They also have no preconceived notions that may color their judgment. Their goal is merely to unearth the truth and make recommendations based on their years of experience. More often than not, individuals will let their guard down when speaking to an outsider that guarantees them anonymity. This can give an outside expert an edge in conducting a post-implementation audit.