Steps in a Successful Pilot Project
Every consultant and IS executive has favorite approaches to pilot projects.
But the steps for successful pilots, or early phases of reengineering, generally
go like this.
- Begin with a statement of goals based on the business purpose
that is driving the project. It should include an understanding of how the
initial phase--whether called a pilot or not--fits into the total effort.
Key stakeholders must be involved now.
- Take a first cut. Develop an implementation plan and solution
scenarios, and build prototypes. Use this phase to create a team
with a single-minded purpose and to discover where people still disagree
over the business problem or goals of the project.
- Do a full-fledged design. This involves spelling out the business
rules that drive the process--a tedious but essential step. The design has
two components: the user design, making sure you have all the scenarios
identified, and the technical design, which should be an iterative process.
About halfway through the design phase, the technical people pretty much
take over and bang out details, but they should be always checking back
with the end users and business-side owners.
- From all of this, devise a project plan and budget. Get approval
of them before going further.
- Next comes the construction phase. During this stage it's important
to have weekly meetings of the stakeholders to monitor status and make decisions.
Begin communicating with, demonstrating for and training the broader user
community before the system is completed.
- Institute user testing. During this phase, the end users get
deeply involved again. Let them bang away on the system and determine whether
it does what they said it should do. This stage is over when the system
stabilizes from the usability standpoint and when the customer is comfortable
that it meets business needs.
- The pilot is over when the system is in the users' hands and the business
- Conduct a post mortem, talking to users, business managers, developers
and development managers. Evaluate the lessons learned to improve procedures
as you move forward.