ElfontheShelfIt’s that time of year again when those of us with young children dust off our beloved, albeit creepy, Elf on the Shelf so that he can watch over our kids and report back to Santa each night if they have been naughty or nice. Children find so much joy in being haunted every day by a so-jolly-that-it-must-be-evil, judging, lurking elf.

In many ways, upcoming IT projects can be like the Elf on the Shelf popping up where you least expect it, reminding you that if you had completed it by now your organization would be more efficient, compliant, or prosperous. Allow me to offer four ways to get the elf off your back and your name off the naughty list before Santa arrives.

Don’t ask Santa to do the work of an elf.
We all know Santa is competent in many areas, but when it comes to making toys the elves are experts. Whether you’re investing in a CRM, EMR, or mobility solution, it is inefficient and risky to ask an internal resource to become a specialist during the evaluation phase. Say you are rolling out a mobile tablet solution to staff. Leveraging a consultant well versed in the mobility market who can quickly boil down your options, advantages, and risks will save you several weeks on the project.

How does Santa handle all of that fan mail?
Little Johnny had the nerve to write Santa three letters this year. THREE! Luckily, Santa has someone that screens his mail before making it to his desk. When the word gets out that you are in the market for a solution, your phone starts ringing and email starts dinging from sales reps. Yours and about half a dozen others in your organization. Much time is wasted in back and forth with information gathering, questions, and scheduling calls. Appointing a central point of contact will save you hours of time per week. But before you delegate these communications to just any gate keeper, you must realize that seemingly harmless pieces of information given to a sales person can hurt you at the negotiation table. You must ensure the central point of contact for the vendors knows how to communicate without compromising your position of power. If you are already using an experienced consultant on the project with a sales background, he/she is likely your best bet.

All reindeer look alike.
How does Santa choose the best eight (nine if it’s foggy out) reindeer to pull his sleigh? Before sitting down at the judges table on “So You Think You Can Pull a Sleigh” he has taken the time to fully understand the elements required to achieve the desired results. Similarly, it is critical to interview all of the key players for your project to compile a targeted, weighted selection criteria before engaging with vendors. Showing up to product demonstrations without a clear focus and preparation could leave you feeling like the solutions all look the same. Taking a strategic approach to your evaluation prevents you from making the wrong choice for your project.

How does Santa visit every house in one night?
I imagine he has a plan, a map, and a lot of magic! Tackling an implementation can be the biggest obstacle keeping you from completing a project. Just because you’re not magic doesn’t mean you don’t have a few tricks up your sleeve. An implementation plan can be crafted in a way that impacts the individuals involved minimally. While there may be days or a week that are heavy for a few people, it doesn’t have to be that an entire team is consumed for six weeks. Consider the right approach for the project and your desired outcome. Whether you implement modules in phases or spend more time pre-planning and go-live all at once, a well orchestrated project plan from the start can make for a pleasant, results-oriented rollout.

Don’t let the Elf on the Shelf push you around this season. These tips will put you well on your way to accelerating your project and start achieving results sooner. Happy holidays!