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September 29, 2017

Reducing Implementation Risks During a Transformation

Transformation programs represent significant investment for enterprises and the cost of failure is extremely high. Business transformations set out to achieve critical benefits such as meeting regulatory requirements, mitigating risks or gaining competitive advantage. If a technical implementation fails, the realization of these benefits is delayed or lost.

The transition into live operations is often tricky, especially in a transformation which marks a significant change in usual practices. This is the point in the program where all the separate functions come together for a short implementation window. This is often one of the most risk-intensive periods of the program’s life and mishaps here are asymmetrically larger than other areas. Implementation problems can lead to significant extensions of the program's life and burn rate as well as massively impacting the realization of benefits of the wider portfolio. 

Delivering Technology

Technology delivery during transformation programs is where the highest level of risk occurs, particularly at the point of implementation. Implementation windows are a valuable resource due to their limited number. If a change event fails, it could impact on every other planned change down the line. For certain changes, such as a change in accounts software, windows are even rarer because they have to fall at the end of the month to be useful.

Implementation windows force together teams from all over the business. Not just those delivering the technology, but those who will be using it as well as compliance functions and stakeholders. Teams are also often large and geographically dispersed, making communication and coordination a challenge. The variety of players involved also leads to the risk that each will have their own individual agendas, leading to a “tragedy of the commons”. 

How can we reduce implementation risks?

We spoke to one of our clients who is using Cutover to deliver technology for a major healthcare organization. He told us some of the ways that Cutover is already improving the process and helping him to reduce risk: 


A comprehensive dress rehearsal will allow the tech team to check that there are no conflicts or dependencies while aligning all the business units in the event. Simply running through a checklist of tasks is unlikely to catch any major issues that could occur during the implementation itself.  It is also difficult for people to get a full understanding of their role this way.  The best way to do this is as a real simulation.  Our client said:

“Cutover enabled us to do proper dress rehearsal events with a proper understanding and sense checking of dependencies.”

Increased Efficiency

Cutting down timescales to make the most of the implementation window with contingency included is another way to reduce risk and improve efficiency. Removing unnecessary delays and gaps in the plan means that change can be made much more quickly and there is a greater room for error if something does go wrong. Cutover can help with this process: 

“We had a very tight implementation window to hit. Cutover helped us take out the ‘whitespace’ in the typical cutover where, due to other toolsets, people were inefficiently mobilizing. This enabled us to compress timescales for a more efficient cutover.” 

Visibility and Communication

During the event itself, visibility is key to success. However, continuous communications can take up valuable time for those running the event. Most project managers have to check in at hourly points with teams and stakeholders for progress updates. This means that they usually don’t have a completely up-to-date picture of the event’s status. Cutover eliminates this issue: 

“We are usually focused on paging and emailing stakeholders. Cutover took care of the stakeholder comms for us. It’s the first time I have not spent all my time chasing, we actually had time to do our jobs!”

Projects often require changes of direction based on new information and having status updates in real time allows this to be done more quickly: 

We could see how things were going in real time rather than at hourly points, allowing us to steer more effectively and have more reaction time.”

With a proper dress rehearsal, increased efficiency, visibility and communication, the risks of implementing a new system or service are drastically reduced. For an enterprise-wide transformation program, this means a greater number of changes can be made with less risk and cost. Cutover enables critical event managers to take the risk and uncertainty out of technology delivery.

Find out more about how Cutover can be used in a continuous transformation here.

Chloe Lovatt
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