I recently had a kickoff meeting with one of our customers, and it was quite refreshing. These meetings are sessions where our Professional Services delivery team meets with a customer’s key stakeholders to “kickoff” a PlanPlus Online CRM implementation.
In this particular meeting, the leader on the customer side began the session with a bit of a pep talk and motivational speech that set clear expectations and reminded the customer’s stakeholders of their responsibilities. This was refreshing because many companies and individuals look almost exclusively to their vendor or other third party partner to ensure the success of a project or initiative. But this ignores the reality that success ultimately hinges on the customer and those who will ultimately benefit from a project and use the proposed product, service, or process.
Our customer’s talk included several key points and excellent reminders that are not only applicable to a software implementation but to any project or initiative.
“It is up to us, the customer, to ensure the success of this project.”
This is an important reminder for anyone who is about to embark on a new project or implementation with a vendor or other third party. Ultimately, a project can only be as successful to the extent that its key stakeholders are able to support it and do the necessary work to complete and manage it effectively. A new initiative or project can easily fail if it does not receive the full support and sincere effort of those who will ultimately benefit from it on the customer’s side.
“The vendor is here to help us, but it is not responsible for our company’s success. We are.”
A vendor or other third party is responsible for doing its due diligence in delivering products or services and in providing as much help and support as possible, but it cannot control or dictate a customer’s actions and responsibilities. So, while a vendor should play a pivotal role in helping the cause, it cannot guarantee a company’s success in advancing a new project or initiative. That can only come from within.
“This will take some effort from our side, but it will be worth it.”
In our kickoff meeting, our customer’s leader explained why the implementation would be worth the effort and offered motivation for the team. It is always important to reinforce why a project or implementation is important and to remind key stakeholders of the benefits they will ultimately enjoy from a successful effort. This is critical in securing buy-in from stakeholders, in maintaining their ongoing support, and in encouraging a consistent and comprehensive effort.
Providing details of the benefits along with supporting information and case studies, tying this to their personal and professional goals or needs, can help motivate stakeholders. Occasional reminders of the benefits and the end goal will help keep them invested and aware of the project’s importance.
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“Take responsibility for your own success.”
Just as it is useful to personalize the potential benefits of a project or implementation for stakeholders, it is also important to encourage them to take responsibility for their role in the process and for the success of the initiative on an individual level. A vendor or third party can provide helpful tools and support, and a customer can champion a project or implementation across its organization, but if individual stakeholders fail to support the initiative and fail to do their due diligence in handling their responsibilities and pursuing the potential benefits, then the initiative may fail on an individual level.
If this happens across multiple stakeholders, then the entire project may fail. At the very least, however, an individual failure could leave a particular stakeholders lagging behind and struggling to keep up while others have already begun to enjoy the benefits of success. So it is important for individual stakeholders to take responsibility for their own success.
“If you don’t know something, then figure it out.”
This part of the talk focused on encouraging stakeholders to take initiative and try to resolve problems or challenges on their own. With our customer’s implementation of PlanPlus Online CRM, stakeholders were encouraged to explore our solution to answer questions and figure out features and functions for themselves. We have designed our system to be as intuitive and user-friendly as possible, so users can learn our software by simply using it. Inevitably, though, with any new project or implementation, some users might be inclined to rely on co-workers, other stakeholders, and the vendor to assist them whenever a question arises or they are uncertain about how to proceed. This can cause delays in overall implementation and adoption, and it can keep individual stakeholders in a dependent state that precludes them from developing mastery and comfort with a new process or system.
So it helps to encourage them to try to figure things out on their own and remind them that it is okay to not be perfect and to learn through trial and error. To the extent that they can embrace this and have success in overcoming any fear or hesitation to learn more independently, this will also help them in tackling future challenges and new initiatives in the workplace.
The next time you are planning to hold or attend a kickoff meeting for a project or new initiative, consider using these same motivational reminders to take responsibility for your own success and achieve the results you want.