Anatomy of a Bad Rollout: Ear Ache

Poor communication during your building's rollouts can be a real earache sometimes.

Poor communication will cause your project to fail.

It’s no secret that poor communication makes any job tougher.  It may surprise you though, to know that a study by the Project Management Institute (PMI) shows that project failure rate is directly related to poor communication.  To quote from the study:

Ineffective communication is the primary contributor to project failure one third of the time, and has a negative impact on project success more than half the time.

In this post, we explore the communication challenges posed by multi-site technology rollouts, along with the methods that should be used to address them.

How Does Poor Communication Impact a Rollout?

Because of its scale, complexity, and large number of participants or stakeholders, the risks posed by poor communication to a multi-site technology rollout is great.  There are multiple impacts of ineffective communication, including:

  • Unhappy customers as a result of poor scheduling and/or a bad on-site experience
  • Multiple site visits to complete the job because the statement of work (SOW) does not adequately reflect the customer requirements, or the Field Technician does not have the skills/tools/materials/equipment required to do the job
  • Cost overruns, as billing cannot be reconciled against the budget

This happens because most technology rollout companies do not actively manage their rollouts using skilled project management professionals.  Instead they try to increase their profitability by passively monitor rollout jobs, using unskilled low-cost dispatchers.

In this ‘low cost’ model, the dispatcher does not possess the technical knowledge to understand or support the work being performed, does not have the processes and tools to properly manage jobs, and has not been trained in how to communicate with a broad set of stakeholders.

The omission of any of these elements introduces a level of risk to a project, but the lack of all of them is a virtual guarantee of poor quality deployments, and a terrible customer experience.  The outcome of this poor communication is a bad case of Ear Ache – for the customer, the vendor, and for the technology rollout company.

So What’s the Right Way to Communicate in a Rollout?

As we have discussed in previous articles, the best practice approach is to “minimize to maximize”, or in other words, use the clearest possible messages (the less words, the better) and have them travel by the shortest possible route.

In rollout terms, this means using skilled resources to take the “raw”, often ambiguous customer statement of work (SOW) and transform it into a focused, unambiguous work order packet (WOP).  The value of a well-built WOP is that it effectively eliminates the risk of a field technician misinterpreting the scope of work.  By removing that risk, you remove inconsistency – a key source of aggravated rollout cost.

When dealing with communication routes, shorter is better.  The technology rollout company should use a communication standard that emphasizes using the shortest possible lines of communication.  This avoids the translation errors that inevitably occur when even the most simple instructions pass through multiple hands.

And finally, it’s important to recognize that even when you use the above approach, it’s still possible for communication issues to arise.  When this happens, the project manager running the rollout must have the soft skills and professional needed to prevent a local on-site drama from escalating into a full-blown crisis.

The Bottom-Line: It’s Good to Talk

Delivering a successful multi-site technology rollout is not easy.  There are multiple parties involved, each with different needs, motivations, and communication styles.  To ensure that everyone stays on-task and in-sync with each other, clear and effective communication is vital.

If you cannot adapt your style of communication to different audiences, the risk of project issues increases massively.  And failing to deal with those problems quickly and effectively, inevitably leads to project failure and a poor customer experience, which in turn creates more communications issues.

The good news is that effective communication is a skill – not an art – so it can be taught. But it must be taught properly and then used within a culture that reinforces its use.  If you are deploying new technologies at scale, and you want your customer experience to be a great one, you should find a technology rollout company with a culture that teaches and fosters good communication.

Before you begin your next deployment, ask your rollout company how they teach and use communication as part of their approach to project management.  Listen to what they say and evaluate how much Ear Ache you may be in for.

If you don’t like the answer, talk to us: we ‘d love to tell to you about the experiences we have gained from hundreds of thousands of technology rollouts over two decades.  The proof of the value of our approach, is shown by our 99.78% “Done Right First Time” performance, as well as our industry-leading high customer satisfaction.  All this stems from our commitment to clear, concise communication in every rollout.

Related Materials:
Download the Anatomy of a Bad Rollout infographic
Download the PMI Report The High Cost of Low Performance: The Essential Role of Communications
An article by Concert on the skills required to build a robust work order packet
An article by Concert on how to avoid errors in communication
An article by Concert on dealing with on-site conflict