Running a project is easy. There’s a methodology for it; write the business case, get the budget, draw up the plan, do the work, etc., and at some point the project comes to an end. That’s the definition of a project, it has a limited time span and then its complete.
But after the project comes the process of transitioning into business as usual work. This requires planning too. It’s almost a project in it’s own right, except it isn’t because there isn’t an agreed methodology to guide it. So how to approach it? Here are a few things I think need to be considered:
1. Understand who, what, where, and when the BAU work is going to touch.
Does the new BAU work result in a change to the working practice of someone in the Finance department? Does it only have an impact on a Monday when some reports are being written? Is the new income being captured in a particular csv file transfer? It’s only after the project has been implemented that the effects can really be unearthed.
2. Communicate why
Everyone involved needs to understand why the project happened, why the transition needs to align all the BAU practices, and. Just as communication is important in a project, it’s important in managing a transition.
3. Develop new processes and practices together
Help the people affected to develop new processes and practices to account for the changes. It is important that these people are helped in this as they won’t necessarily understand the project that drove the need for the changes and so could risk creating a new process that doesn’t exactly match what is needed. And of course, working with people in other departments helps to break down silos.
It would be easy to say that all of these things should be thought of as part of the initial project but discovering and understanding all the potential impacts requires developing an understanding of how lots of existing business processes operate, and this would shift the focus of the project away from delivery. So, I do think that the transition should be thought of separately from the project, and probably after the project when as many of the impacts and implications have become visible. Then, as the business evolves and more projects are delivered, it should become easier to go through this process of transitioning the project work to BAU.