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20.05.2024

Why Steering Committee is a powerful tool for technology implementation projects

A suitable project management framework is one of the cornerstones of any successful integrated business planning project, as consultants have to manage the expectations of the business and key stakeholders across the entire project lifecycle. At Planingo, we use the power of the Steering Committee as the best format for achieving this, and for driving a productive working dialog between all parties. Below are a series of insights drawn from best practice, and earned through the time-honored method of expending blood, sweat and tears:

  1. Who. Perhaps the most important thing is to have the right people as members. You may include a sponsor from top management, owners of automated processes, IT representatives, and key users, i.e. the most interested and powerful stakeholders. A power-interest matrix, familiar to anyone working in the project management world, could prove useful here.
  2. Purpose. From one perspective, a Steering Committee should be put together in order to take key decisions across the whole project, such as putting the product or its increment into trial or commercial exploitation, approving changes to the roadmap, and summarizing results and business value. From another standpoint, every project is different, and you may not have these types of decisions or milestones as part of your project plan. As a rule, our long-term projects tend to have Steering Committee meetings at least once every two months, so that we can not only update Steering Committee members on the project status, but also gather feedback, and keep them “on track”.
  3. Focus. Every project involves a whole host of actions and documents, so you can really inundate them with information. Do not do this! It’s vitally important to provide only that information which is necessary for decision-making. Let’s not forget that time for Steering Committee meetings is also at a premium. The goal is not only to give operational updates, but also to get feedback from the business side and discuss key issues, especially when decision-making is on the agenda.
  4. How. A few obvious but often overlooked points: replacing tables with graphs, illustrating ideas with diagrams, transforming texts into short bullet points, highlighting conclusions – all this will make your messages come through loud and clear. Less clear-cut, but effective: funny illustrations might help to concentrate attention. Be interactive, responsible, and attentive.
  5. More tips. If you face making some hard decisions, it might be a good idea to show the materials and speak with key Steering Committee members before the official discussion. This will give more context and insight, thereby helping to make the meeting more productive for everyone involved.

The Steering Committee is a powerful tool for both companies and consultants, one that helps to gain a better understanding of business priorities, to maintain the dialog with all stakeholders, and to deal with critical issues quickly, so that the automation project can move forward more efficiently.

Alex Lavrishev,

PMP, PhD

Planingo

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