From the beginning of a triathlon to the first notes of an opening night play—the way you start things off can set the tone for the rest of the event. The same goes for an implementation plan. Without one, your organization could rolling out big changes with nothing but an online reference guide and a stressed-out developer trying to make everything happen.
So what is an implementation plan, how do you make one, and how do you execute it successfully? Let’s take a look.
What Is an Implementation Plan?
Used as a support device for your strategic plan, an implementation plan maps out how to bring your strategic plan to life by breaking it into identifiable steps, where each step is assigned a to team member to complete on a set timeline. Strategic planning is done on an organizational level, dictating the direction of the company strategy and allocating resources to make that strategy come to life. Thus, the implementation plan traces the edges of that, mapping out how to best implement a strategic plan from the outset, and how to effectively manage it as it gets put into place.
What Are the Benefits of an Implementation Plan?
The implementation plan plays a large role in the success of your overall strategic plan. But more than that, communicating both your strategic plan and the implementation of it therein to all employees helps staff to feel as if they have a sense of ownership within the company’s long-term direction.
An implementation plan that’s well communicated also helps to increase cooperation across all teams. It’s easy to work in a silo—you know exactly what your daily process is and how to execute it. But reaching across the aisle and making sure your colleague is aligned on the goals that you’re also trying to meet? That’s another story entirely. But with an implementation plan in place, it helps to bridge the divide just a little easier.
Additionally, with an implementation plan that’s thoroughly-researched and well defined, you can ensure buy-in from stakeholders and key partners involved in the project. And no matter which milestone you’re at, you can continue to get that buy-in time and time again.
Stay on Track
At the end of the day, the biggest benefit of an implementation plan is that it makes it that much easier for the company to meet its long-term goals. When everyone across all teams knows exactly what you want to accomplish and how to do it, it’s easy to make it happen.
How to Make an Implementation Plan
There’s not really a standard one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating your implementation plan. It’s more of an amalgamation of tasks that comes from a needs assessment when evaluating your strategic plan. Generally, an implementation plan tends to look like the following:
Research and Discovery
Start by asking yourself:
- What teams need to be involved to achieve the strategic goals?
- How long will it take to make the strategic goals happen?
- What should be allocated from a budget and resources standpoint?
By interviewing stakeholders, key partners, customers and team members, you can determine the most crucial assignments needed and prioritize them accordingly. It’s also at this stage that you should list out all the goals you’re looking to achieve to cross-embed the strategic plan with the implementation plan. Everything must tie back to that strategic plan in order for your implementation plan to work.
Map Out Assumptions and Risks
This acts as an extension to the research and discovery phase, but it’s also important to point out the assumptions and risks in your implementation plan. This can include paid time off or holidays you didn’t factor into your timeline, budget constraints, losing personnel, market instability or even tools that require repair before your implementation can commence.
Each activity must include a primary champion to be the owner of it. For tasks to be properly assigned, this champion will need to do the delegating, ensure that all systems are working as per usual, keep track of their teams’ productivity and more. In the case where a risk becomes reality, this person can manage it on a more micro level so that no one person has to take full responsibility. Task management software is practically essential for this aspect.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Who needs to be involved in the plan?
- What are the stakeholder requirements?
- What resources should be allocated?
- Are there any milestones we need to list out?
- What are the risks involved based on the assumptions we notated?
- Are there any dependencies for any of the tasks?
Once all activities are outlined, all resources are listed and all stakeholders have approved (but no actions have been taken just yet), you can consider your implementation plan complete.
How to Maintain Your Implementation Plan
Making sure your implementation plan is a success requires more effort than just setting it up and letting it run—it requires active participation. This means creating a system where your team can collaborate easily and track all updates so you can monitor and report the implementation progress to key stakeholders at each milestone.
Additionally, at each milestone, gather all team members involved and share all stakeholder decisions with the team. Keep the door as open for as much communication as possible, so you can continue to encourage both stakeholder buy-in and an environment where all team members feel as if they have an active stake in the success of the project. Even if some details change during a milestone, everyone can have all questions answered and changes to the implementation plan can be made efficiently without disrupting tasks and their dependencies.
What Are the Risks of an Implementation Plan?
As is the case with any well-thought-out plan, there are risks involved. When it comes to an implementation plan, the main risks of program failure can involve the inability to get either buy-in or resources from stakeholders, business partners or team members.
Sometimes this could be because of a resistance to change, a loss in confidence among staff or even a lack of prioritization from leadership. Whatever the case may be, it all comes down to communication. If you’re communicating goals across team members well as well as reporting data efficiently (and thus, getting buy-in from stakeholders), then those pitfalls really shouldn’t occur.
Outside of communication issues on a more rare level, there are factors outside of the organization’s control that can impact your implementation plan. This can include losing key personnel, destabilizing economic changes, new competition that has entered the market with a similar product and even natural disasters affecting your organization’s ability to produce quality work.
How ProjectManager.com Helps with Implementation Plans
Creating and managing an implementation plan is a huge responsibility, and one that requires diligence, patience and great organizational skills.
With ProjectManager.com, you get access to cloud-based Gantt charts, so your team can access and view their activities no matter where they are. Plus, link to dependencies within and across teams, so everyone is on the same page no matter where they are.
When it comes to an implementation plan, there are many ways to make one that’s best suited for your team. With ProjectManager.com, you get access to both agile and waterfall planning so you can plan in sprints for large or small projects, track issues and collaborate easily. Try kanban boards for managing backlogs or for making workflows in departments.
Switching up the activities after a milestone meeting with stakeholders? You can easily add new tasks, set due dates, and track how far along your team is on their current activities.
Implementation plans are the backbone of an organization’s strategic overall plan. With ProjectManager.com, give your organization the software they need to gain insight into all resources needed, view activities on their lists and collaborate with ease. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today.