How to Plan a Project for Success — Define Goals, Measure Performance


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Setup an “audit ready” change adoption program

Many change programs focus on preparing the organization for the upcoming change, but they do little to ensure it delivers the desired business results after the initial change is complete. Instead of focusing on a single point-in-time event (like the “go-live” of a new IT system), you should instead focus on the results you would like to achieve 1, 3, 5 or more years into the future.

To do this, create a program that clearly articulates the results you want, how and when you’ll get there, and how and when you’ll check to see if you achieved your goals.

You define “testable requirements”. Now define “Testable results”.

For years, IT has called for the creation of “testable” requirements. One definition of testable requirements is:

“A testable requirement is a requirement that has been broken down to a level where it is precise, unambiguous, and not divisible into lower level requirements. These criteria are only met if it is possible to write a test case that would validate whether the requirement has or has not been implemented correctly.” Source:

Testable requirements are important because they help ensure the system meets users’ needs and that nothing was lost in translation between the users and the developers.

The next step is to come up with “testable business results”.

That is, can you replace the word “requirement” in the definition above with the term “business results”?

Can you define and communicate – precisely and unambiguously – the actions and outcomes you want users to achieve from their adoption of your IT system?

After all, what you are after is the business results that are achieved from the effective use of the system.

Communicate to users the results you will audit

It is alarming how often users tell us, “No one ever told us we needed to do X” within the system. And it’s alarming how often it’s not explicitly and effectively communicated as to what’s changed and what new things users need to do in the system. In cases like this, behavior can’t be audited and people can’t be held accountable for achieving results that were never defined or communicated. Define the goal, specify the actions to get there, inform people what’s expected of them and how they’ll be measured and then measure their behavior.

For effective change adoption programs, there should be no ambiguity amongst users exactly what it is they are expected to do and by when.

And there should be no ambiguity of the consequences if these expectations are not met.

Verify results. And hold people accountable.

Once expected actions and outcomes are fully defined and communicated to everyone, go back and check actual results. Effective change adoption programs will explicitly define the timeframes, procedures, and parties responsible for conducting audits and holding people accountable for achieving expected results. Just like with financial audits or ISO audits, user adoption audits need to hold people accountable for their actions.

Specific corrective actions and set new goals

The final step is to include a mechanism in your change audit for defining any required actions to correct deficiencies and to update specific goals for moving forward. Your people, organization, and operating environment are all in a constant state of change and you need to continually update your testable results and audit program to meet future needs.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jason Whitehead
Jason Whitehead is CEO of Tri Tuns, LLC, an organizational effectiveness consultancy specializing in driving and sustaining effective user adoption of IT systems. He works at the intersection of technology, process, culture and people to help clients actually achieved measurable business benefits from their technology investments.


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