Although most organizations can agree that pilot projects in general have beneficial outcomes, your pilot project can run into numerous pitfalls if you do not get the basics quite right. Here are five tips to help you accurately execute the fundamentals so your project can start out on the right foot.
Tip #1 – Choose wisely
Which records do you choose for the target of your pilot effort? They key is to consider a wide range of variables related to the records themselves and the business groups which capture and retain them. Here are some factors to consider:
- Variety: Include multiple groups with varying business functions
- Volume: The number of records should be manageable given available resources, yet still big enough to:
- produce results in cost savings, space utilization and business efficiencies
- provide a credible test case for your digital records management solution
- Complexity: Record collections in your pilot should offer just enough variation to both challenge and inform implementation activities.
Impact: Look for departments that will have easily demonstrable outcomes following your pilot.
Tip #2 – Manage project scope
Scope creep can easily impede on your ability to meet the original objectives of the pilot.
One of the goals of your pilot project should be to learn from this opportunity which concepts and procedures worked well, and where adjustments need to be made for a future full roll-out of the project. By adding extra participants, records, or processes to your pilot, you detract from your ability to effectively meet this goal by overstretching your limited pilot resources.
Tip #3 – Measure twice, cut once
One of the goals of any pilot project is to look for possible adjustments in the program itself, which could include cutting process steps, tools and scope areas. Key decisions during or after the pilot should be based on objective and repeatable data. Look for clear and quantifiable trends before you begin digitizing. For example:
- source document conditions
- source document formats
- document retrieval rate and times
- record collection quality and organization
- digital authenticity and physical disposition
Tip #4- Evaluate the outcomes
A comprehensive post-mortem analysis of your pilot is critical to identifying lessons and adjusting plans for implementing the full roll-out of the digital records solution across your organization. Your review should incorporate input from management and staff, including surveys, focus group discussions, one-on-one interviews, and direct observations or audits of in-scope record holdings before and after the pilot.
Tip #5 – Toot your own horn
In order to fully meet the proof of concept objective, it is necessary to communicate positive outcomes of the pilot as widely as possible.
On the records management practice level, what exactly was achieved? How many paper or other physical files were converted to digital format? What enhancements does the new platform offer users?
Further, what are the real world impacts of improved records management for the broader financial, operational and risk management objectives of the organization as a whole? Be sure to communicate these results with all stakeholders.