People power: Our LA schools project is succeeding because of the people

I got a chance to spend the week with a great team this week in LA with the LA Unified School District. We are implementing our Extensible Assessment Manager (ExAM) solution to support inspections and compliance across the 2nd largest school district in the US. The mission is simple and complex at the same time – provide a safe and healthy environment for thousands of Los Angeles staff and students to prepare the next generation to succeed and lead. Our application is just a part of this task helping to ensure that mobile inspections can be conducted electronically with analysis and workflow enabling real time decision support across more than 900 schools.
I’m often impressed when I get on a client site by the passion and dedication our clients have with regard to their work. Maybe this is because our clients are generally those that are looking for a better mousetrap and are willing to change in order to get there. LA has been exceptional in this regard. Sure we’ve hit snags along the way as we try to move their operations from a 10 year old Access database into our bright and shiny Salesforce platform based app (ExAM4Government.com, ExAM4Inspections.com), but at every turn we’ve been able to find a solution.
In working with them this week, I’ve noted a few things that I believe have helped us along the way that are probably true for every successful transformation project:
1. We have an internal evangelist. Every project needs someone who sees the solution to an internal project clearly and advocates strongly on its behalf even when times get tough. In LA we have a strong internal advocate that really believes that this project is going to change things for the better and is passionate about ensuring it comes to fruition.
2. We have executive commitment. An evangelist can’t operate without authority and if you don’t have an executive in your corner you won’t get the access to resources you need to succeed. In LA our internal evangelist has been given free reign to support the project because it is being backed by an executive who has bought into the program.
3. We have a committed team. It takes more than two people to change complex organizations. Our internal evangelist has sold the project to the broader team making it so that we get the right people in our meetings and the active participation every project needs to be successful.
I don’t think the three things above are all you need to be successful, but I’ll argue that it is awfully hard to succeed without them. Obviously, you need the right tools, technology and knowledge to make things go, but without getting the people side of things right you are asking for trouble. I’m excited about the next few weeks and about working with this team to finish what we’ve started. There is no better feeling than feeling than succeeding with a great team.
Check out our Spring 2014 Mobile Inspection Video! ExAM & Salesforce1: Mission Attainable

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