How to Execute A New Business Efficiency Plan - dummies

How to Execute A New Business Efficiency Plan

By Marina Martin

You need to follow the steps of any business efficiency plan in order to implement change, but you also need to compose a comprehensive execution plan, before you go about implementing changes. Execution is usually where people start a project, but this is rarely the most efficient strategy. If it works, it’s more likely that you were lucky rather than that you are just too good for project plans.

It can feel like a chore — especially in the beginning, when mastering a change process is a project in itself — but the risks that planning offsets, coupled with the additional gains you can (and will!) benefit from, are real.

And once you’ve been through the process a few times, not only will it become second nature, but you’ll have a cadre of former execution plans to build upon, replete with rich historical data about pitfalls to avoid or strategies that worked particularly well in your organization.

Individual methodologies like Six Sigma and Lean have their own specific approaches to this process, which can (and do!) take up entire books unto themselves. Broadly, the components of an efficiency-enhancing plan include:

  • Background information: An efficient execution plan doubles as a mechanism for getting new team members and interested outsiders quickly up to speed on the issues at hand.

    Include a problem statement outlining the inefficiencies you’re seeking to address, your ideal outcome, and any recognized risks or constraints on your ability to reach these objectives (such as a very small budget, only two hours a week to work on your goals, or a lack of adequate internal expertise).

  • Clear tasks and responsibilities: If there is one component that’s most important, it would be a clear list of tasks and deliverables.

    You’re not expected to have the knowledge to write every step yourself, but it is a project owner’s responsibility to track down that information in order to truly scope a project. “Build an app” is not a step — it’s a wildly general statement that can take three hours or three years. Every necessary role also needs to be defined, so that you can then assign people to these roles.

  • Resource planning: How many dollars and hours is this project expected to use? How does that fit into the available resources of the organization? Frequently people give time and financial estimates, but almost never do they consider those figures in light of every other active project.

    Your project may “only” require five hours a week from accounting, but if there is just one person in accounting and 16 active projects, then something has to give.

  • Planning for the project itself: A successful project requires clear and regular communication among players and externally to the project audience. This calls for check-in schedules and policies (Does the technical writer check in once a day or once a month? With whom?), setting a schedule, assembling an audience list, and assigning real humans to the earlier-defined project roles.

    Also, what happens if the project exceeds budget, takes too long, loses key players, and/or fails to meet its objective? Plan ahead. Having an efficient project process in place makes it infinitely easier to roll with the inevitable punches.

With Agile Project Management (APM), your execution plan is a series of small sprints instead of one long comprehensive plan. APM works best in environments of frequent change, like software development (where Agile was first developed) or the development of a new product line, where new features and obstacles are constantly introduced and need to be managed.