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I defined Business Readiness here, but you probably want to know what to do!

So, let’s look at some Business Readiness tools and when to use them. Remember these tools you can use these tools mechanically or flexibly; with a heavy hand or in balance with the project’s goals and size. Be people-centred and stay:

Characteristics of a good change project


This post presents 11 brilliant tools that will help any project succeed. The earlier you can start using them, the better. For example, I conduct a risk assessment when initiating a project, but that may not be possible. The diagram below shows the latest point in the project to use each tool.

At all times

Two-way communications

Effective Business Readiness teams are more than a conduit between the project and the business. They promote conversation, prompt for responses and put people together.

Lessons learnt

Learn from previous projects in your organisation and elsewhere and every step of your change journey to improve future action.


Have you heard the phrase ‘particularly poor planning leads to particularly poor performance’? One of the worst ways to plan is to leave it too late. Project initiation, project concept or whatever you want to call it, is your opportunity to lay the groundwork, get your ducks in a row, set up your project to succeed. I include discovery in this phase because discovery is the biggest risk to your budget and schedule – here’s how I express the risk:

If we discover something unexpected in discovery, then the cost of the project will increase, it will be late and we may not achieve our goals. Probability: High, Impact: High


Because discovery is expensive and time consuming, most projects map the current situation after the business case; bring it forward if you can. Discovery gives the true project scope, when done honestly. Design discovery to:

  • find the people you must engage
  • explore and challenge project assumptions
  • find links between teams and hidden tools / workarounds
  • identify risk
  • understand business constraints e.g. reporting cycles, busy periods and partner and supplier relationships

Project and Business Readiness goals

All projects need goals, they frame the business case, tell everyone what you have to achieve and underpin planning and design. Commit to Business Readiness outcomes early so you can plan and budget for them and share your goals to bring people on board.


Planning is a brilliant opportunity to understand the people your change affects. Lift your eyes from the Gantt chart and use these tools to improve your project outcomes and measures.

Communications plan

You are already communicating, so why introduce a communications plan? During change people need consistent communications tailored to their preference. The comms plan identifies stakeholders and stakeholder groups (aka personas or avatars) and delivers the right message, at the right time, using the right channels. And it formalises the feedback loop into your scheduling and risk and issues management so you can respond to what you hear.

Stakeholder engagement

Stakeholders are everyone affected by or who can affect your change, engagement turns spectators into advocates. Advocates actively support change, they persuade others to engage and help you understand business needs and constraints.

A small group of stakeholders have executive power over your project. To keep their support, let them know what is going on, the troubles you face, the solutions you are putting in place and the support you need. Use go / no go gates to gain their approval at key stages (hopefully built into your project life cycle) and before enacting change.

Roll-out scheduling

The nature of your change will define the roll-out strategy (MVP, phased or big bang, pilots). But you must consider business factors when designing the timing and sequence.

When planning, reduce risk and fix issues with targeted actions, monitoring and support. Include activities such as impact assessments, training and reassignment and implementation of measures to show success and benefits realisation.

Collaborative scheduling

Planning the roll-out is difficult. You have two options for success: plan collaboratively or set out your stall and then take business requirements and feedback. Both work. Both are hard. Both are preferable planning without the business.

Collaborative solution design and testing

A second collaborative activity builds support and improves the outcome of your project. Design and test your solution with the business, the more you fix during design, the easier your roll-out will be.

Impact assessment

Change affects people in two ways.

First, it changes how people work. To ease this impact, you can train, restructure or reassign. If you need these remedies, engage specialist HR support. Second, the roll-out interrupts work and uses time for training and other preparations. Assess and mitigate both to maximise benefits.

Risk management

The people operating the processes, using the IT, delivering business goals know more about the business than you or I.

While discovery challenges your assumptions, formal risk management picks up details that compromise your success. Ignore them at your peril.

You have probably noticed there are no tools here that you wouldn’t use during a well run project. The difference is in the approach you take – to learn more about

  • Transparency
  • Flexibility
  • Respectfulness
  • Persuasion

Take a look at this post.

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