Practice makes Perfect

Step 5 – Helping to Design, Develop and Test New Capability

You have a plan, so now you need to work through it – easier said than done.

Step 5 takes a lot of effort, ability and determination to complete to time, cost and quality.

Here’s a thought. Some work will go well and you will be confident of success, but what about:

  • Risky tasks
  • Unforeseen issues
  • Controversial issues
  • Acceptance of change
  • Ensuring your design is fit for purpose.

You can use walkthroughs to mitigate against these types of issues. Walkthroughs involve a project team member leading a group of peers, experts and users through a thorough explanation and demonstration of new capability.

What are the benefits of a walkthrough?

  • Improving relationship between your project and the business
  • Clarifying understanding by practical application
  • Explaining something in detail helps to identify issues
  • Time to think
  • Proving that benefit will to be delivered (or not)
  • Cost-savings by resolving issues sooner rather than later
  • Clarifying responsibilities and gaining ownership
  • Increasing the appetite, and preparing the way for change
  • Encouraging innovation by involving staff
  • Building expertise in the new ways of working
  • A smoother rollout and better transition to business-as-usual
  • Starting the learning process
  • Improved outcome quality
  • Quick wins.

So how does a walkthrough work?

The type of walkthrough, time taken and number of participants involved will depend on the size and complexity of the project. It can be useful to get someone who is independent of your project to facilitate the session and keep it focused. A good facilitator will use various techniques to structure the session to encourage participants to identify defects and areas for improvement.

It is important to get the correct mix of participants e.g. subject experts, technicians, software engineers, peers, users, process owners, sponsors. The strength of this technique lies in the joint wisdom and co-operation of the group.

Before the meeting ensure attendees know what they must do to prepare for the session and clarify what their role will be on the day.

Each session should have a clear aim and participants should embrace a no-blame culture. Remember, the whole point is to identify defects and areas for improvement not to criticise an individual. Finally to gain the most benefit, it is important that participants come having done their preparation for the session.

Participants should be encouraged to work together for the good of the project. They should be open, honest, and respectful of different views. They should be creative but decisive and willing to make a difference.

The key output of the session is a list of clearly documented issues. Each issue should be prioritised and have an associated action, owner and completion date. You can then follow up these actions as part of your project.