David Copperfield. Sigfried and Roy. Penn and Teller. Chris Angel. These are some of the greatest magicians of our time and the outstanding success of their magic depends upon prep work. If the scene isn’t set, the props not double- and triple-checked, the prestidigitation not diligently practiced, then the whole illusion falls apart. Business process re-engineering (BPR), enterprise resource planning (ERP), new business onboarding, post-merger architecture, and enterprise transformation also require meticulous prep work for success, because failed implementation carries dire consequences for business. The preparatory stages of any company’s initiatives, large or small, follow the same general guidelines.

1. Define the value proposition. This is an if-then statement in which I identify the problem to be solved and the expected outcome. Determining a concise and accurate definition takes work, including conducting research for background information to support the value proposition. This entails discussion of specific, desired result of the project. The description of the desired outcome which may lead to identification of the problem to be solved. The information gathered during this phase will also assist in determining the factors that require resolution to achieve the desired outcome. Now, you’re ready to talk strategy on how to resolve the problems affecting your business.

2. Define the execution framework. You’ve the “what” to be solved. Now it’s time to determine the who, when, and how. In this stage, team roles and expectations are determined and described so that all participants understand the expectations placed upon them and are capable of meeting them. This phase also serves as the point during which man hours and resources are mapped out so team members can budget their time and effort accordingly. Above all, be sure to establish a communication plan that not only specifies when and how often updates are due, but which tools are to be used. If the team is expecting an email update and the team member who’s responsible for a particular update doesn’t do so unless he’s speaking face-to-face with team members at a meeting, then frustration will inevitably ensue.

3. Map the tactics. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. In this phase, the team will discuss and determine the tactical steps and basic timing to meet the value proposition and project goals. This phase includes determination of what’s in the project scope–and what’s not–identifying key constraints that could impact the success of the project, and specification of the critical success factors, which include understanding of the risks, the mitigation tasks that may be necessary, and the assumptions going into the project that may be proved inaccurate. Once the scope has been defined, the consultant can then determine his or her fee. Now the team can proceed.

Each phase of preparation seeks to ensure that team members possess a common understanding of goals, responsibilities, and actions. In that manner, businesses can reduce risk and optimize effort because all members of the team are headed in the same direction and working toward the same goals without gaps in understanding, missed benchmarks, and lost opportunities. A project launched from this common understanding has a greater chance for on-time and on budget completion and optimal implementation.

Unless you really want to lose money and aggravate your staff, a process is necessary to devise the plan that will improve your business. The Heggen Group guides the gathering of information, analyzes that information, and leads teams to develop effective and feasible plans for effective business resource management.