You know that old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well, I say “It takes an army to have a successful retail deployment.” The number of people that need to be involved in even a seemingly small deployment project can be staggering. But without the right people, in the right place, at the right time, it will cost you untold pain, time, and money.
Not only is having the right number of resources for your retail IT deployment important, but having the right type of resources can be even more important. Most of these resources are the face and the voice of the project. They interact on the phone and in person with the store personnel, and it is very important they provide superior customer service. However, you must also be prepared for them to be human, because human they will be.
So, what are all the resource types that need to be considered for any deployment project? While each project has its own unique characteristics, they all use the same set of foundational tasks and resources.
Here are the key resource types to consider:
- Executive Oversight/Sponsors
- Steering Committee/Change Control Board
- Program/Project Management
- Project Coordination
- Logistics Coordination
- Scheduling Master
- Support/Help Desk
- Installation Engineers/Deployment Technicians
- Technical Practitioners
- Order Processing/Equipment Management
- Quality Control
- Documentation Specialist/Technical Writer/Librarian
- Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
Once you’ve determined the resource types you will need for your deployment project, you must define key data points for each one. This information will be used to vet potential candidates and ensure that only the resources matching the requirements are assigned to the deployment. At a minimum, the following should be clearly defined for each resource type:
- Job Description
- Years of Experience Required
- Specific Skills Required
- Education/Certification Requirements
- Employment Requirement (W2, 1099, or Vendor)
- Dedicated or Shared Resource (i.e.: Full-Time or Part-Time)
- Specific Tools Required
- Location of Resource (Local or Remote / Onshore or Offshore)
- Special Security Requirements / Clearance
- Compliance Certification Requirements (e.g.: HIPAA Training)
- After-Hours Availability Requirements
- Medical Requirements (e.g.: Flu shot required to work in hospitals)
- Specific Project Training Required
The final, and hardest, aspect to determine is the quantity required of each resource type. While this may seem incredibly straightforward, that’s not always the case with all resource types.
Deployment technicians are usually the hardest to determine because it is based on the number of installations and the timeframe in which they need to be completed. For example, let’s say you have a deployment project that covers 5,000 stores and they need to be completed in a 24-month period. That is ~209 stores per month (5,000 stores / 24 months = 208.33 stores per month).
Now let’s say the install takes two days per store and you can only work in the store Monday through Thursday of each week. If you assume there are four weeks in each month with four working days in each, that gives you eight install windows per month (4 weeks x 2 install windows per week = 8 install windows per month).
With 209 stores per month over 8 install windows, you must install ~27 stores per install window (209 stores per month/8 install windows per month = 26.125 stores per install window).
If the install requires two deployment technicians each, you’ll need at least 54 technicians per install window for 24 months. Keep in mind this scenario does not account for blackout periods, a ramp up period inside the 24-month deployment window, or extra resources needed in the event of illness, attrition, travel issues, etc.
The trick is to have enough deployment technicians to complete all the scheduled deployments — but not too many that you have to bench them because you don’t have enough for them to do, but you must still pay them.
It can get even more complicated if the deployment requires deployment technicians with different skill sets and/or there are different deployment site footprints that require different skill sets. The bottom line is to make sure you’ve based your quantities on sound deployment assumptions for the specific project and vet the assumptions with not only the project management team, but with the technical team as well.
The final consideration when planning your resource requirements is that they are going to be human and not only make human mistakes, but have life interfere from time-to-time that will impact your project.
Prepare in advance to handle these scenarios in an expeditious and professional manner. Create a continuous improvement feedback loop for all team members so they can continually learn from each other and incorporate a process up front to handle gaps when life interrupts them temporarily.
And if you end up with a team member who turns out to be detrimental to the success of the project, remove them immediately. My experience has been that these difficult situations don’t usually improve and can have a negative impact on your credibility as a project leader.
Clearly defining resource requirements is a critical component of your deployment design. Spend the time it deserves to ensure you assemble the army of people you will need to successfully complete your retail technology deployment.