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My company has a new governmental customer that is causing me a major headache.

That customer is a group of loosely based organisations existing within a regional hub. The regional hub has budget power and can implement things without the consent of the base, e.g. all of our users.

My company is implementing our software on that regional basis, top-down. We started meeting to define the implementation timeline. When going to these meetings, one of the things that jumps out at me is that not all the organisations have the same incentive to change.

Some of them are not interested in any changes, therefore not coming to the meetings.

What is worse, is that they do not have someone who can bridge the political gap, a champion who can represent all the organisations.

I can already feel the impending doom.

The questions are the following:

  • Does it sound possible for me to ask the organisations to name someone who can be our main contact and let them deal with the hassle of software change, therefore culture change, by themselves?

  • If the answer is no, are there ways to influence the organisations to make them organise themselves?

To clarify, I work for the supplier that is implementing the system that will be used by all sub-organisations of a regional hub. There are 13 regions. We do not have a project board or a steering group. I'm the PM and also the customer care manager.

  • Hi @MarvMills, yes I work for a supplier that is implementing a system that will be used by all sub-organisations of a regional hub. There are 13 regions. We do not have a project board or a steering group. I'm the PM and also the customer care mgr – Andy K Mar 18 '16 at 14:36
  • Is this a question about project management? It doesn't sound like it is within the scope of a project manager to me. – Mark C. Wallace Mar 18 '16 at 14:38
  • Hi @MarkC.Wallace , it is but I can remove the tag if you want ... – Andy K Mar 18 '16 at 14:39
  • Cheers @MarvMills – Andy K Mar 18 '16 at 14:44
  • 3
    @MarkC.Wallace I think this is an excellent project management question and something many PMs face- how to begin the task of effecting change in a loosely coupled and managed organisation and maximise the chances of success – Marv Mills Mar 18 '16 at 14:48
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I suggest you go to the top; somebody (or some group of VIPs) must have signed off on the order and approved this huge project.

Assume they still care about it.

Find out who that was and discuss your concerns with them. Come armed with clear facts and figures, not rumours and feelings. (Don't blame specific people; you don't know the corporate politics, connections, etc.)

Use the motto "Solutions, not Problems" and suggest a solution: Ask them to designate a SPOC with whom, you will meet regularly. This SPOC is your champion.

Your meeting agenda should include:

  • Review initial aim of the project (roll out important project nationwide)
  • Issues encountered in the field (concrete data of uninterested parties)
  • Proposed solution (Designate a SPOC for weekly meetings to solve issues)
  • Method of reporting back to VIP (monthly status report sent by email)
  • A date for a follow-up meeting, if a SPOC was not designated at the initial meeting

Your weekly meetings with the SPOC should be a review of the previous week's Open Issues and a list of new issues. Meeting minutes should have the format of Action Items:

"SPOC will meet with A from B to understand why they missed their meeting"

3

There's no magical potion here. You simply need top down sponsorship that can engage regional sponsorship to influence change across the organizations. Without it, your chance of a successful transformation is closing in on zero. You need to recommend an organizational change component as a major part of this project, either doing it in-house or contracting with a firm that specializes in this area. Raise the threat that success is in jeopardy without a org change focus and communicate this threat and the recommended mitigation at every meeting you can. And do not engage with this customer under a firm fixed price contract under any circumstances. Finally, if the customer continues to not provide the organizational support this project needs, then recommend project closure and walk away. Hard to walk away from a contract but you do not want to harm your reputation just for a bit of revenue.

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