4a. Manage the Implementation – overview

ACT//DO//DELIVER

Overview

Once your business case has been agreed you will need to plan and manage your implementation. You may already have a well-established process for managing projects. The AmbITion approach is flexible enough to allow you to use whatever project management techniques you would usually use.

Digital projects are no different than other projects. However, it is likely that you will be working with external suppliers who are specialists in technology. Making sure that you understand enough about the technology to manage this relationship is key to a successful implementation.

Read as an essential part of undertaking this section of The AmbITion Approach, the AmbITion guide How To Implement Digital Development and Develop Policies on Digital.
Appoint Project Manager

It is key that you appoint a project manager for your implementation who is responsible for the delivery of the project. This project manager should report regularly to your management team, and should coordinate the work programme.

When working with external consultants (e.g. a web company) they should also assign a project or client manager to the project (try and have one point of contact with whom you clarify sign off and change procedures), but it is vital that you have your own project manager to coordinate the project from your end. This person should act as a single point of contact with other staff, funders, and external suppliers.
How you will manage the project

It is useful to set up some project management procedures at the start of any new project. These may be ones that you already use in your organisation.

You might wish to use software tools to plan your project milestones and work packages. Regular minuted meetings are also a good way of ensuring that the project runs effectively. If the project has a number of different work packages or you have to report to funders or other stakeholders, then some formal reporting mechanisms can be useful.

At the start of the project it is useful to set up a system for managing documentation on the project. Depending on the size of the project this might include a “risk log” or an “issues log.” Having a procedure in place for authorising changes to the project is useful, in that it can make clear what the project manager can decide for themselves, and what they need to get agreement for.

Online project management software is often the best way to keep everyone on a project in touch – including your staff and external suppliers. Many web companies will set up a “project space” using software such as Basecamp: www.basecamphq.com. It helps keep a record of any changes to the specification, requirements or problems.
Planning

However detailed your business case, you will almost certainly need to break down your project into different work packages, and these will involve different people or different roles and take place at different times. Managing timescales, activities, budget and resources are all different aspects of good project management.

Reporting

Your project is likely to have specific reporting requirements set by your funders, or internally. For longer projects you may be expected to provide an update every six months or every year.

When working with external suppliers ensure you plan enough time to appoint an appropriate supplier – and, when they have completed the work, that you have time and resources set aside to test the development. Build in some contingency to your timelines in case work slips due to unforseen circumstances.