For many organisations, there is a very strong emphasis on the implementation of innovation across the entire company. Developing improvements to business processes and market-leading products, ground-breaking strategies and even conquering new markets – all of these offer great potential that can help a company when it comes to increasing its market share.
The problem is that innovation can be complex. It often involves larger scale and highly complex changes to your organisation with sometimes multiple interdependencies. All too often, the challenges involved in actually implementing any innovation are just as difficult as the process can be of creating the innovation itself. Implementation management is therefore vital in ensuring that innovation is put to good use. It can help avoid those issues stemming from lots of great ideas, but no plan as to how they can be best used to improve the company.
What is implementation management?
The project management life cycle contains a number of different phases, and the project implementation phase is the third phase. During the implementation stage of any project, the project plan is put into action. During this stage, the project manager is responsible for directing and coordinating the project resources in order to meet the objectives that are set out in the project plan. As the project gets underway, it is also the role of the project manager to use their project management skills in order to manage and direct every task of the project, every step of the way. This is the implementation stage of any project, putting the plan into action and then dealing with any problems that might come up along the way.
During the implementation stage, the work is done that will eventually produce the deliverables of the project. These might be a product or a service that the project manager and the team are dealing with on behalf of a client, sponsor or customer. This stage also includes all of the documentation relating to the project that it is important to put together.
Innovation without implementation usually leads nowhere
In order to be successful, a company often has a culture of innovation. However, the challenge that these innovative organisations find themselves facing is to make sure that they pay enough attention to how they implement any of the fantastic ideas that they might produce.
Many individuals attending courses for professional project managers will learn that implementation is vital. Those companies that are hoping to survive or indeed thrive with a culture that has placed innovation at its heart will need to be “change-adept.” This means the day should:
- Have the necessary skills and structure that are required in order to identify any problems and opportunities for improvement that exist
- Have the ability to implement solutions in a technical manner that is both cost-effective and efficient
- Undertake to manage every aspect of the implementation process. This should include any cultural and human elements, including making sure to eliminate the silo mentality that is all too common in many companies whilst improving any collaboration
- Off at any organisational support resources and the time that is needed in order for the implementation to be successful
Any leader of innovation should be entirely focused on the ability that their organisation has with regard to implementation. This should be their most important capability. Without it, there will be no change, even if there are innovative ideas available.
How can you make a great idea an implementation success?
The big question is, how can you build the capability for implementation in your company? In the first place, it requires leaders who understand that having a good strategy or idea is just a small part of the accountability that they hold. It is also necessary to be accountable for implementation. When it comes to getting changes made, the actions of your stakeholders should be the most single important factor. These can be more important than even the project team.
It is also really important for companies to put in place a structured implementation process that they can link to other business protocols within their organisation. This can be done through the use of project management methodologies like Agile and through the use of project management software.
Where there is a lack of a common framework that can be used to manage both the cultural and human elements of the strategic initiatives within an organisation, these are things that are highly likely to take far too long. They are also the areas where there is likely to be too much money spent. Plus, there is also an increase in the possibility of any desired changes not being kept up with over time. Unless the right planning is put in place in the first place, then there is a very good chance that even the best ideas are unlikely to lead anywhere.
Why does it matter?
The simple reason is that implementation management forms a vital part of the project management lifecycle. Without this incredibly necessary step, it can be difficult for the project manager to ensure that they have followed their carefully laid out project plan properly. The entire project management lifecycle is a carefully balanced one. Everything is thought out very carefully, and there is a lot of planning that goes into the various stages that make up the plan. It is therefore important to follow the same careful processes when it comes to the actual implementation of the plan. When implemented properly, it is much easier for the project manager to anticipate any unexpected problems that may arise. They can then put the relevant measures into place in order to counteract the problems and find appropriate solutions. This can be done with the minimum disruption to the project plan.
It also ensures that the best use of resources is made in respect of the project, something that can help to keep the project running on timescale and to its original agreed budget. If a project is to be considered successful, these things matter.