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Piloting before full deployment can save the day

As transformation initiatives advance and key components of the new solutions near deployment, the urge to rush to completion is tempting. Guided by wisdom and lessons learned from past experiences, you must ask yourself: Do you prefer to learn about the shortcomings of the solution from a handful of people, or face the repercussions from everybody in the company at the same time?



Why Should You Pilot?


1. Risk Management: A pilot project acts as a crucial firewall, catching potential issues before they become costly, company-wide problems. By addressing these issues early in a controlled environment, you can avoid the fallout of larger failures that might damage client trust and corporate reputation.


2. Stakeholder Alignment: Piloting ensures that all stakeholders—from senior management to operational staff—are aligned with the new approach. This alignment is essential not just for smooth implementation but also for maintaining morale and engagement throughout the organization.


3. Technology Integration Testing: Testing new technologies in a pilot setting helps identify integration problems that might disrupt operations if unaddressed. This step is particularly critical in environments that rely on seamless data flow across various platforms and systems.


4. Regulatory Compliance: For organizations in regulated industries, piloting is a proactive step to ensure all new processes and systems meet stringent compliance standards. This can prevent costly violations and the potential for penalties or operational shutdowns.


5. Training and Readiness: Pilots act as a real-world training ground, providing staff with hands-on experience and the opportunity to adjust to new roles or technologies under the guidance of the implementation team. This readiness is crucial for ensuring a smooth transition when the project goes live.


6. Quick Learning: Pilots provide immediate, actionable feedback, allowing project teams to iterate quickly on their designs or processes. This rapid learning loop can significantly shorten the time to reach optimal solutions and enhance the overall effectiveness of the deployment.


7. Cost Efficiency: While piloting may require an upfront investment, it is often far less expensive than the cost of addressing errors after a full rollout. By fine-tuning the solution before widespread deployment, you can reduce the resources needed for large-scale fixes and focus on enhancing other areas of the project.


When Might You Consider Skipping a Pilot?


1. Unmovable “Go Live” Date: Occasionally, project timelines are tightly constrained by fixed event dates, market pressures, or ironclad contractual obligations. When a “go live” date cannot be moved, managing the rollout effectively becomes essential. Employ enhanced monitoring to detect and resolve issues as they arise, implement the solution in phased stages to allow for iterative adjustments, and prepare a dedicated support team to handle any challenges swiftly.


2. Critical Timing for First-Mover Advantage: In markets where being the first can significantly impact success, the time required to conduct a pilot might not only risk losing a competitive edge but also tip your hand to competitors. In these cases, the benefits of capturing the market early can outweigh the risks associated with skipping the pilot.


3. Minimal Adjustments: For incremental adjustments to systems that have already proven effective, conducting another pilot may be redundant and unnecessary.



 

Piloting is a strategic decision-making tool that can safeguard the success of transformation projects by identifying potential issues early and allowing for adjustments in a controlled, manageable environment. By carefully considering when to pilot and when to proceed, leaders can ensure that their organizations not only minimize risks but also capitalize on their investments with greater confidence and effectiveness.

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