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When do you celebrate project success?

Blog: Solitaire Consulting Blog

One of the technology projects I’m currently managing is nearing ‘go-live’ and I’m working with the client team to complete user acceptance testing and get the inevitable test issues resolved.

This project has been a bit of a hard slog and the project team is feeling a bit demoralised and just want to go back to doing their day jobs on a full time basis.  One of the directors saw me this week and suggested that we organise a celebration with a few drinks, maybe a bottle of bubbly, for the week the project goes live.

      Is this a good idea?     

      Should we celebrate the success of a technology project going live?

Well, yes and no!  It is always good to recognise effort that leads to the achievement of a major milestone. However, it can send out the wrong message if this celebration is seen in any way as the end of the project.  To quote Churchill, it is not even the beginning of the end.

Let me illustrate this using the ‘J-Curve of change‘ diagram below:

When you go-live with your new system, business performance will take a significant plunge, into the so-called ‘valley of death’ (VOD).  This is because everything your staff found familiar is no longer the same.  Even the most trivial of tasks may now take longer because the screen layouts and processes are different and the unconscious actions have to be thought about.

This is is where the support of the project team and your Change Manager is most important to help minimise the depth and length of the VOD and maximise the benefits from your new technology system.

Unfortunately, I see too many projects where the project team is disbanded as soon as the project goes live and the business is left floundering without any support.

Going back to my questions above.  My recommendation is to certainly celebrate the achievement of a major milestone such as going live, but hold off a bit before holding the end of project party.  The right time to celebrate project success is when business performance has started to rise and some project benefits are being realised.  Remember, with most business projects the majority of the benefits are experienced after the project is complete not during the normal project life cycle.

If you’d like to catch up and discuss your project implementation challenges give me a call or email and we can meet to chat over a coffee or arrange a Skype call.

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