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Implementation Project Best Practices - Find your Protagonist!!

Implementation Project Best Practices - Find your Protagonist!!

Posté par Scott Hatland le

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In this Guidewire Smart Approach Blog post, I am going to talk about a very important person that you probably don’t think about when you are planning or executing your Guidewire implementation project. This person is what I call, “The Protagonist”. The Protagonist is a customer resource that embraces Guidewire systems and the change they will bring to your organization. Such a person works in their unique manner to promote the new system(s) to the user base and encourages their co-workers and user community to comprehend and support the project benefits brought about by the Guidewire project.

The Protagonist isn’t a formal project role that you will find in Guidewire’s official project methodology or in any literature about Agile project management. Yet, in my experience, I maintain that the Protagonist is perhaps the most important role on our implementation projects. Customers that have a Protagonist are more likely to avoid key problems that might cause teams to lose focus and expend valuable time that fails to deliver value to the overall project.

Key Traits

The first key behavior of a good Protagonist is to have a positive attitude. Much like in our personal lives, people seek out and become attached to people that have a pleasant demeanor. The same thing occurs in the business world. Throughout an implementation, there are going to be times where frustrations mount and negative vibes fill the air. A Protagonist needs to keep the long-term benefits and goals in mind and can serve to remind the team members that good things will come from the project efforts. I am not recommending that the Protagonist live in a dream world, but it takes a strong person to look past the adversity that arises during an implementation. Some of the strongest customer resources we see are not necessarily the ones with the best technical skills or business knowledge – those that have a positive, forward-looking attitude are often the people the project cannot survive without.

The second key behavior for the Protagonist is to look beyond the current state. During our implementation projects, one of the biggest challenges we face is working with business users that latch on to current systems and current processes. While the current state needs to be understood, it should not serve as your model or default answer for system requirements in your Guidewire system implementation. A Protagonist has an ability to understand the current state, but has the foresight and courage to challenge the status quo to help develop business and system processes that better enable key insurance transactions within Guidewire core systems. This does not mean we are looking for people that always agree with everything our consultants recommend or with what our systems do out of the box. What we want is someone that is genuinely open to change and has the skills to see how simplified systems and processes are of benefit to the entire organization. We look for these people that have this ability and encourage them to take leadership roles in the working sessions held during the various project phases.

Finally, a Protagonist is someone that grasps the concept of collegiality and gets excited when they have the opportunity to educate co-workers about the new systems being implemented in their organization. On a Guidewire project, you should expect the Guidewire Services team and our implementation partners to always promote the system benefits. While this aids in user adoption, it pales in comparison to the power of having your own resources disseminate the benefits of the new systems. At the end of the day, your user community is more likely to adopt the behavior of co-workers that have a vested interest in the systems they will use to do their jobs. The Protagonist understands this and finds a way to work with co-workers in a fun and amicable manner to spread their zeal and knowledge of the new systems.

In closing, the traits I have listed here are probably present in most project team members to some degree. However, the Protagonist needs to excel in all of these areas in the face of adversity, and they need to be engrained in the individual’s personality. A good Protagonist will have a positive attitude, will look beyond the current state when discussing system requirements, and will always demonstrate collegiality by finding ways to successfully educate others in the use of the new systems. For the Protagonist, these skills outlined here might be their strongest asset, and the best project managers understand this and put the Protagonist in a position to excel.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, there will be a few things that will go wrong during your implementation. Identifying and utilizing the skills of a Protagonist and encouraging them to tell the project team’s story is a good way to avoid conflict and effectively manage the struggles that arise during your project implementation. Go find your Protagonist!!


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