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Proper Business Alignment: Here’s How to Make Your Transformation Project Run Smoothly 

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I know of a company who lists their priorities as – and I’m paraphrasing here – people, procedures, tools. I like the way they say this, and the way they’ve ordered the list, because, when tackling a transformation project, if you don’t have the first two, the third one doesn’t matter. 

It’s true. If you don’t have the right people in place, and the right procedures to get things done, who cares which tools or technology you pick, honestly? You’re still not going to get anything done.  

That’s what proper business alignment is. It’s making sure you have your ducks in a row, and in the right row, so your people can come together and get those important transformation projects done.  

Taking the First Steps 

Proper business alignment is really a nice term for something that I witness every time I get into a long-term engagement. When I first get on the ground, I take note of the existing hierarchy: 

Who’s the business sponsor?  

Who’s the technology sponsor?  

What’s the chain of command and who’s engaged in this project?  

Who feels that their job is threatened by what’s about to happen? 

The fact is, most of the projects we come into are transformation projects. And employees that have been with their company for a while are usually terrified that a transformation project might affect the nice, comfortable little world that they’ve created for themselves.  

So, for the first six months to a year of a project (at least), I stick to the proper business alignment zone. Because what we need to do first is get the business project sponsors and technical sponsors engaged properly.  

This means making sure that the chain of command functions, and I don’t know a nice way of putting this, but getting the people who are against the change refocused on other priorities so the program is able to move forward.  

Cleaning Out the Clogs 

These people are the ones that slow everything down. You want to make sure that your chain of command is clean and that everybody is committed to making the change in a timely fashion. I have often run into a manager who forms a huge bottleneck in the project for little to no reason.  

When we encounter this, we work with the leadership team to reassign that person. After this routine happens two or three times, they start to see what you’re seeing and they move the person out of the way.   

I like to say that this process is almost like Tetris. You have to put all of the blocks in place before things can start, and I can’t stress enough how important that is to a well-run transformation project.  

If you don’t do this exercise at the beginning, you’re never going to get things done or, even worse, things are going to get done in a disjointed manner.  

Laying Out the Roadmap 

Looking at proper business alignment as a whole, one of the most important subparts of the process is that while you’re doing this people-rearranging exercise, you are really solidifying the roadmap in the project team’s mind.  

What does the map look like?  

What are the deliverables along the way that we’re going to be marching to?  

Why do we have to do it in this order? 

If you can convince people to buy in and get crystal clear on where we’re going and why, you will see things really start to flow. And because a lot of these transformation projects take between two and three years, the reality is that you may have some bumps in the road. You may have to push dates a couple of times for various reasons – that’s not uncommon.  

But if the general flow is correct, even when you push those dates, they remain explainable. Management buys into it and you can buy more time to do things the right way without unnecessary overages and costs. That’s proper business alignment. 

If you’re eyeing an exciting transformation project, and want to max out your efficiency with proper business alignment, let’s have a conversation.