The Key Reason Why Government Software Projects Succeed (or Fail)

There’s a critical juncture in nearly every government software implementation when a project can teeter between success and failure.

A successful implementation project aligns the 3 pillars of ‘people, platform, and process.’ When these foundational elements fall out of alignment, a project is put at risk. Such risks can lead to a compromised implementation that fails to achieve the key objectives of the project charter, or worse, a project that never truly achieves lift-off leaving an agency in the unenviable position of throwing good money after bad to salvage a failed implementation.

Over 40+ years of successful government software launches, contributing to our industry unmatched 100% project success rate, the implementation experts at Computronix have arrived at a cornerstone belief: The difference between project success and failure is defined by one critical factor—commitment to service.

In its purest form, commitment to service is the mindset that drives implementation teams to truly go above and beyond to achieve the vision articulated in the initial project charter and the entirety of the system requirements. If your software vendor has a true commitment to service, no project challenge is too great to overcome, no detail is too small to consider, no effort is spared to ensure all stakeholders are invested and engaged in achieving the project’s inevitable success.

Unfortunately, this total commitment to service isn’t a given amongst all government software vendors. On many occasions, our implementation expertise and proven project track record is sought to replace the enterprise system from a recently failed implementation project. In sifting through the wreckage of failed projects such as these, it is here that the critical importance of a commitment to service is revealed. With astonishing consistency, post-project analysis of such projects reveals those critical moments when a government software vendor is being asked to do more than just meeting the letter of the contract. Rather, they are being asked to step up and commit as a true partner to help an agency overcome emerging obstacles that threaten the success of their system implementation. When software vendors fail to achieve this level of commitment to service, they are inevitably falling into the self-defeating mindset of ‘blaming the client.’ Rather than accepting that enterprise software implementation projects intrinsically carry the possibility for significant obstacles that must be identified and overcome, these vendors founder on the rocks when smooth sailing inevitably gives way to stormy seas.

Given the critical importance that commitment to service plays in achieving 100% project success, let us identify the key factors that ensure the ability of a government software vendor to embrace this mission critical mindset. 

“The difference between project success and failure is defined by one critical factor—commitment to service.”

In-House System Implementation

Unlike many of our competitors, Computronix provides a legitimate end-to-end service model. When you embark on a project implementation with us, we are with you through every phase of your product lifecycle from the initial sale through project implementation, to ongoing support and service and, more often than not, into ongoing expansion of the platform for emerging needs elsewhere in your organization. Not only does this fully integrated service commitment give you greater transparency and the ability to derive generational value from your initial software investment; this end-to-end service commitment ensures you are never passed off to another vendor for initial system implementation or crucial upgrades down the road.

The growing reliance on outsourced product implementations is a worrisome trend in our industry. Outsourcing this critical phase of the client and project engagement is almost always a pure cost-saving decision that severely compromises a vendor’s ability to maintain a full lifecycle service commitment. By placing a vendor at arm’s length from their client, an outsourced implementation significantly compromises the ability of the vendor to achieve both product management best practices and a deeper more satisfactory partnership/relationship with their customer.

Measuring Success in Terms of Client Satisfaction

For many government software vendors, particularly those that are publicly traded or owned by equity investors, the company is beholden first and foremost to their quarterly and annual earnings. This prioritization of profit over other valid customer satisfaction metrics creates a potential conflict of interest for such vendors, particularly as the vendor transitions from winning a bid to fully committing to service with the necessary project resources to guarantee implementation and support success. As a result, when an implementation project drifts into potential crisis, such vendors are inevitably focused on mitigating a shrinking profit margin (i.e. stopping the bleeding) as opposed to realizing that this is precisely the point at which a service committed software vendor marshals all of the resources required to solve emerging issues to keep the project on pace.

As a privately owned company with a proven track record of project implementations, we believe that a myopic focus on maximizing profits alone is one of the key factors that can threaten a project’s success. Instead, our success metrics focus on creating “delighted customers.” In doing so, we look to achieve true partnership relationships with out clients engendering further business in the future as our satisfied customers extend the capabilities of their ‘Powered by POSSE’ solutions.

To properly weight profit considerations vs. our more integral customer service measurements, we rely on the following control mechanisms:

Computronix avoids the practice of back loading project costs.

In an attempt to keep the initial bid price lower, some government software vendors will attempt to de-scope some of the initial project requirements with the objective of tackling this work post project via billable change requests. This inevitably leads to customer dissatisfaction following product launch especially when vendor communication practices obfuscate why expected project requirements were deemed out-of-scope for the initial system delivery.

At Computronix, each bid we submit defines a recommended solution that meets all of the client’s stated requirements within the specific timeline(s) requested. The total value of the bid is arrived at via detailed calculation of the project resources, hours, and infrastructure required based on our long track record of implementations of comparable functionality, configuration, and scope. Our focus on customer satisfaction over profit optimization starts from the initial procurement process onward with fair value pricing for the specific product solution needed to meet the entirety of your project requirements. Rather than focusing on crafting the most ‘sellable’ bid, we prefer a process that properly manages customer expectations with full transparency from the start and no hidden charges down the road.

Commitment to customer service is fully integrated into our project and employee optimization processes.

Every system implementation project we take on is governed by a Project Charter. Essentially functioning as both a detailed project diary and rigorous service scorecard, this documentation gathers the ongoing feedback of all key project personnel both internally and within the client’s project team(s) at various stages of the project through to final launch and employee rollout.

Tracking alongside key project milestones and deliverables, each charter is an honest-to-a-fault depiction of the project in progress providing key intelligence to all project participants to help them refine and focus their efforts for optimal implementation results. A single source of truth for all involved, the Project Charter proactively flags potential risks and emerging items requiring immediate attention and/or resource allocation. Each charter creates a definitive ongoing snapshot of client feedback indicating those areas of delight where the implementation is exceeding expectations, while more importantly highlighting those project deliverables requiring additional attention to achieve the same high standards for customer satisfaction.

Combined with survey results from the client designed to facilitate honest and anonymous project appraisals, this charter information is rolled up to final service scorecard metrics for each and every project participant in Computronix. The end result is a 360 degree commitment-to-service assessment of every project we have ever completed or currently have underway.

Rather than focusing on crafting the most ‘sellable’ bid, we prefer a process that properly manages customer expectations with full transparency from the start and no hidden charges down the road.

Proactive Project & Change Management Processes

An enterprise scale system implementation is one of the most complex and challenging endeavors that any organization can undertake. A true multi-disciplinary effort hugely dependent on superior communication skills and specialized technical skillsets, each new project is fraught with the potential for time consuming and costly delays if not managed effectively by proven project management and change management processes.

From a client perspective, these are just a few of the internal factors that can hamper the efficiency and effectiveness of your system implementation project.

  • Staff is reluctant to embrace/learn a new system, preferring to proceed “the way we’ve always done things.” Additionally, some staff may fear a new software system viewing it as an attempt to automate their existing job responsibilities.

  • Stakeholder buy-in on the new system and/or the need for same is not universal within the broader organization, with various camps preferring a different system or even a different approach altogether.

  • Budgets present as inadequate and/or timelines as too aggressive or unrealistic. This can be especially true when an agency chooses not to allocate staff to a dedicated project team, relying instead on project participants working ‘off-the-corner-of-their-desks’ to achieve internal project deliverables.

  • A previous project failure or history of same has severely compromised the confidence and enthusiasm to take on a new system implementation project.

  • The organization is prone to communication silos making it difficult to achieve organizational project unity with timely decision making and effective communication to all stakeholder groups.

  • There’s an organizational tendency to increase project scope beyond initial requirements, especially as system visibility increases and more stakeholder groups weigh in.

  • Project plans dedicate insufficient time for user testing, an invaluable opportunity to get staff ‘hands-on’ with the system to both identify bugs AND gather momentum for organization wide user uptake.

For those projects that run aground when a software vendor fails to embrace a full commitment-to-service, it is often in these areas of project and change management where you see projects failing with the most regularity. At Computronix, this makes intuitive sense to us. We consider our project management and change management processes to be a direct expression of our commitment to service. It is through these process that we can truly delight our customers. At their core, project and change management are exercises in fluid information management. Keeping everyone informed, engaged, and on the same page over the course of an extended project is a demanding challenge especially if project leads are being reactive rather than proactive.

It is here that 40+ years of successful client engagements serve our implementation experts well. Leveraging IT best practices such as Project Management Institute (PMBOK) and Prosci ADKAR along with the “CX Way,” our proven quality assurance framework for successfully executing POSSE projects, our experienced Project Managers and Change Management Advisors have the extensive resources and proven methodologies needed to ensure that detailed project plans stay on point with clear and consistent communication to all involved. In stark contrast to a “putting out fires” reactive approach that undermines the confidence of project stakeholders, the CX Way proactively keeps everyone in the loop and ‘hands-on’ with the new system. As a result, key project milestones are approached (and celebrated!) with anticipation rather than trepidation. Streamlined business processes are clearly communicated and assimilated helping staff to get onboard with the obvious innovation and efficiency gains that the new system will yield.

Here, as it is with our in-house implementation approach and focus on service over profit, the value of a genuine commitment-to-service is reinforced. As opposed to an impersonal handover to a third-party implementation vendor OR the launch of a feature-lite system that will leave you in change request purgatory for years to come, your product journey with Computronix starts with a deep feature product solution configured to your specific requirements, implemented by a vendor with a proven track record of project success, and a commitment-to-service to engage with you as a true technology partner invested in your organization’s long-term success.

In stark contrast to a “putting out fires” reactive approach that undermines the confidence of project stakeholders, the CX Way approach proactively keeps everyone in the loop and ‘hands’on’ with the new system.

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