Implementation Stories

Maximizing impact: Lean teams in large client rollouts

Learn to maximize impact with lean implementation teams and the process of scaling documentation and training for larger implementations.
November 3, 2023
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Mukundh Krishna

Further reading

  1. Ten ways to supercharge your implementation plan
  2. Choosing the best project management tool for your business
  3. The 10-step client onboarding checklist every business needs
  4. How to reduce time-to-value for your customers

In Episode 31 of Implementation Stories, Jenn Brantmier, SVP of Client Operations and Delivery at Hapi, shares insights on maximizing impact with lean implementation teams and how to scale documentation and training for larger implementations.

In this session, Jenn talked about:

  1. Streamlining implementations
  2. Scaling documentation and training for larger implementations
  3. How lean implementation teams can leverage tools and technology to deliver better success

Here are some key takeaways from the session:

Understanding the scope of the project 

Definition and process

The scope of a project establishes its limits and goals, providing a structure for team members and establishing clear expectations for stakeholders. Without a clear scope, projects are not set up for long-term success. 

Project managers usually tend to associate scope with delivery, but it actually begins in sales. It is necessary to ask the sales team questions to define the create a well-defined scope. 

The scope of work and standard operating procedure (SOP) should be defined during the sales stage before it transitions to the implementation phase. Creating these repeatable processes and involving technical experts in sales calls can make this process easier. 

You should incorporate scope into your contracts and have a document that provides a high-level overview. This document evolves constantly due to new integrations or the need for process improvements.

Based on this document, the implementation team should then create a project plan that aligns with the agreed-upon scope. 

At Hapi, the initial implementation process is refined regularly. To enhance this process, the operations team is involved earlier in the conversation to review and question the scope document. They have a handoff process between sales and implementation to ensure they fully understand the expectations of their customers. 

As a project manager your goal should be to always maintain alignment between expectations and reality for the customers. Creating an implementation plan, ensures that your definition of success aligns with that of your customers. It also gives you a list of items that helps your team stay on track with time, budget, and hours invested.

Concept of “first value” at Hapi

"First Value" refers to the initial positive experience your customer has with your product or service, based on their own definition of success. The faster your customer achieves this, the more beneficial it is.

The concept of "first value" can vary greatly depending on the specific products each company offers. 

Hapi’s app within Sales Cloud, for instance, includes different stages for hoteliers to go through in utilizing the system. One of the significant milestones they consider in delivering value to hoteliers is the connection between their Project Management System (PMS) and Sales Cloud. This integration enables them to have real data in Sales Cloud, allowing them to gain insights about their guests and build comprehensive profiles. 

At this point, the hoteliers can utilize the system to its fullest potential. However, the true "live" moment occurs when they have their email setup and complete their training, enabling Hapi to send transactional emails.

In the majority of their projects, Hapi’s goal is to implement the Sales and Marketing Cloud and replace the existing system. This transition marks the final value for their clients, as they fully embrace the new system and no longer rely on the previous one.

The art of saying “No” 

While discussing the scope with the customer, it is essential for you as a service delivery professionals to decline certain request the customer may have due the the lack of feasibility. 

When you start working with a new customer, focus on building a strong relationship with them and earning their trust. They would be more likely to understand your limitations and accept no for an answer if you build a trusting relationship with them.

In the instances where you may have to say no, always remember to approach it in a positive manner. This is where the compliment sandwich method would prove really beneficial. Start by highlighting the positive aspects and expressing enthusiasm about your work together. Then, address the problem or limitation, providing an alternative or solution in the middle. 

This approach helps to make the information more digestible and less harsh. However, there may be times when you simply have to say no without any alternative options. Even in those cases, remember to use softer language and be empathic to your customers. This minor change plays a huge role in providing an excellent service to your customers. 

Lean implementation teams


A lean team consists of individuals with diverse skills. Each team member often takes on multiple roles.

However, finding the right balance within the team can be challenging. You must make efforts to identify each team member's areas of expertise and leverage their skills accordingly.

Hapi has a set of individuals who excel in Sales Cloud and they are responsible for its setup and providing assistance to hoteliers who have questions or need help with specific calculations. Even after the process is complete and the hoteliers go live, that person remains available to answer any further questions.

Even if your team is small, utilize their skills and expertise effectively to establish strong relationships and maintain consistent service.

Key aspects to avoid errors as a lean implementation team

In lean implementation teams, errors can have a larger impact due to limited resources, communication challenges, and the lack of specialized expertise. 

When something goes wrong, the consequences are felt more intensely by a small team. It affects other tasks that depend on it and throws everything off track.

On the other hand, if we are able to complete tasks ahead of schedule, it allows us to move forward and deliver faster. 

This is why it is crucial for everyone involved to have a clear understanding of the client's expectations. The implementation must be consistent and thoroughly documented to ensure the requirements are met.

In the event that an error does occur, remember to take a step back, regroup, and rearrange your plans. You can navigate through challenges even in smaller teams by communicating effectively. "Measure twice, cut once," remarked Jenn, as she emphasised on taking the time to plan and do a thorough job upfront leads to long-term success. 

Challenges of having a lean implementation team

Collaborating with customers to create a detailed scope for the project could be very challenging for implementation teams. Customers may not be willing to invest time in planning, and wish to start using a new product immediately However, it is important that you fully understand what you are working with first. In such situations, guiding them and helping them comprehend the importance of proper planning could be very beneficial. 

Another challenges that lean implementation teams  face is the difficulty of knowledge sharing. Having a small team and remote working setup, leads to challenges in communication. 

To address this, you can start by implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) method and making significant organizational changes. 

At Hapi, their focus was to improve knowledge sharing between product and implementation teams, as well as sales and implementation teams. 

Effective knowledge transfer brings accountability and empowerment to team members, leading to increased confidence and productivity. It also benefits your clients, making everyone happier in the long run. 

To facilitate knowledge sharing, utilize tools such as Slack, JIRA, and Confluence.

Implementing a new onboarding system could also further enhance knowledge sharing among team members through centralized knowledge repositories. This helps foster a collaborative learning environment. 

This streamlined access to information accelerates knowledge transfer, promotes expertise sharing, and strengthens team cohesion, leading to enhanced knowledge sharing among team members.

Considering clients operation consultants as a tool during the sales process

The sales function focuses on closing deals and ensuring business continuity, while operations strives to deliver quality products and services. 

It is crucial to leverage the knowledge and insights of the operations team to identify trends and ask essential questions upfront. Discuss utilizing a client operations consultant during the sales process with your sales leader to bridge the gap and leverage operations' expertise. 

Bringing an operations representative into pitch meetings allows you to listen and understand the client's needs before finalizing any agreements. 

You can also consider involving your sales team in project activities, such as cleanups and updates. This can help bridge the gap that sometimes exists between the sales organization and the rest of the team, as sales teams are often more externally focused.

Including them in project updates is beneficial, as your updates likely contain valuable information that can be beneficial to them in the future.

Importance of communication and how it helps with effective resource utilization

Tools to use for communication

At Hapi, the development teams primarily use JIRA for internal communication during the configuration phase. They also utilize Slack for non-technical communication among the project team. Each of their customers has a dedicated Slack channel for internal communication, and they ensure that the sales team is also part of these channels to stay informed and address any queries or issues that arise.

It is better to minimize the use of Slack with your external customers because it tends to create a sense of immediacy. When customers reach out to you on Slack, they expect an immediate response, which is not always possible for a small team. It is also challenging to track conversations effectively on Slack. That's why using customer portal is a better option while interating with your customers as it runs on Service Cloud. 

Salesforce’s Service Cloud is a great portal for ticket support. This portal is crucial for tasks like confirming access rights and tracking metrics. If you notice recurring issues for multiple customers, it could indicate a need for training, system configuration changes, or communication gaps with our vendor partners. 

It's common for changes to slip through the cracks while working with multiple vendors. So, using a ticket support system is a great way to avoid miscommunication or delayed responses, and address your customers properly.

If you are implementing a new ticket support system, invite a few selected customers to be part of the process. It's better to make changes on a smaller scale before rolling it out to everyone. Take it slow to ensure a smooth learning experience and gather feedback. 

Aligning resources with projects

Finding the right person for the right seat is an ongoing conversation focused on improvement, growth, and adaptability. You should provide your team with opportunities to explore new tasks or topics outside of their main projects without overwhelming them. 

When we talk about finding the right person for the right seat, it means finding individuals who enjoy what they do and are interested in expanding their knowledge and involvement within the organization. 

Effective communication is crucial, and it can be beneficial to hire efficient project managers and consultants who have experience in the industry and can better relate to customers and empathize with their needs. 

When a company receives a new project, the project managers review the statement of work (SOW) and understand that they are accountable for the successful delivery of that project. They are empowered to make decisions, exceptions, and hold the line when needed. 

While they have the authority, they also have support. We have two directors and the project manager, creating a three-tiered system where they can ask for guidance without hesitation. 

Encourage your project managers to partner with your marketing and sales consultants, who are experts in their respective fields. The project managers are responsible for driving the delivery, which includes effective communication. They follow up with partners and utilize automation tools to save time.

Rocketlane’s PSA software can help align resources with projects for lean implementation teams by providing real-time visibility into team availability, skills, and workload. It enables efficient resource allocation and prevents overloading of team members, thus ensuring optimal utilization of resources.  

Strategies to get the clients to use resources effectively

It's essential to establish from the start that you have tools available for customers to refer to. This requires creating a habit for them to utilize these resources. You should ensure that the customers know they can access these materials instead of relying solely on you for guidance. 

There may be instances where, in spite of sharing the necessary instructions with your customers, they still end up calling you for assistance. 

There are two possible reasons for this. Firstly, some individuals simply prefer talking to a human and are not comfortable using other resources. In such cases, you should accommodate their preference and include more in-person training sessions in your project plan. This could also be an opportunity for upselling additional services if your contract doesn't include sufficient time for these sessions. 

Secondly, the issue could lie in your documentation. Assess whether your documentation covers all the relevant topics or is written in a highly technical manner, making it difficult for users to understand. 

Consider making improvements, even in something as simple as formatting, because it could make a significant difference. Breaking information down into bite-sized pieces and providing clear step-by-step instructions can be immensely helpful. 

During your regular check-in calls, you can refer to the knowledge base and bring up the issue that they may be facing. It can also be helpful to use the tool with the customer to demonstrate the desired behavior. 

Additionally, try to find humor in the situation and turn it into an inside joke for yourself. It's important to acknowledge the human part of us as well. 

Managing client expectations and requirements

Tracking the requirements and allocating resources for each project

The best way to track customer requirements is to review the scope. You could ask questions such as: "What has changed since we last spoke? Have you implemented any new systems? Have you found success with any other solutions?" These questions provide insight into any modifications in project requirements, recent implementations, or successful solutions, enabling the team to align the project scope with current client expectations effectively, ensuring client satisfaction and project success.

Hapi is a hybrid organization with both development and implementation teams and they utilize different systems. The development tem uses JIRA for tracking, while the implementation and delivery team uses a new system.  The development team provides their release notes in Confluence to keep track of customer requirements. The implementation team converts these requirements into checklists and incorporates into the new system. These checklists then become subtasks within the project plan.

Switching to a system which allows for more automation would greatly benefit small implementation teams, considering the high volume of customers who frequently make changes and purchases. 

Setting up an effective feedback loop with the product/onboarding team

Setting up a feedback loop with your product or onboarding team is crucial for aligning customer needs with product development or onboarding processes. It ensures continuous improvement, fosters innovation, and enhances user experience by integrating valuable insights and addressing issues promptly. 

Make sure to regularly ask for your product team for feedback in one-on-one meetings or team gatherings. 

“As a project manager, if you notice recurring delays and trends within your organization, your role empowers you to raise a red flag. Your organization should support your ability to identify consistent delivery issues, indicating a potential gap that needs urgent attention,” Jenn said, regarding providing effective feedback to team members in case of a recurring trend.

It's important to establish a pattern of asking questions and continuously seeking improvement. Include a feedback loop in your project reports to foster open communication. 

Make sure you actively listen, even if it's challenging at times. People may refrain from offering suggestions if they feel their input isn't valued. This requires a change in habits and culture, which can be difficult but is frequently discussed. So, asking questions and documenting the responses is essential.

The last thing to set up a feedback loop is to acknowledge feedback and let the person who provided it know that you took action on it. It is crucial to follow up with them and close the loop by showing that you value their time. 

We all have limited time, so by taking their feedback to the product owner and communicating back to them, you demonstrate that you have acted on their suggestions. 

Significance of scalable documentation and training

Scalable documentation and training ensure seamless knowledge transfer. This enables team members to quickly adapt, collaborate effectively, and sustain high productivity amid limited resources.

Creating reusable templates and centralizing documentation promotes standardization and facilitates efficient collaboration among team members. You can also create custom templates for your documentation to simplify complex processes and ensure consistency. 

Usually, receiving great requirements from customers helps product owners create well-written user stories. This makes it easy for developers to follow along the document and deliver on those requirements. 

You can create release notes for your implementation team to help them understand customer requirement better. Focus on having comprehensive and easily accessible documentation for setting up a journey on Marketing Cloud. 

If you are implementing a new system, start gathering the requirements for it. Once you have gathered all the necessary requirements, build checklists within the system and update the knowledge base.

Scalability revolves around maintaining consistent processes, voice, and tone, as well as ensuring that people know where to find information when they need it. You can also create documentation that can serve as training materials for setting up the system.

Selecting the right tool

Importance of selecting the right tool

Efficiency is crucial if you are striving to minimize the workload for your team while delivering the best possible product. Providing them with the necessary resources can be challenging, especially considering the financial state of the company.

Investing in the right tools is more cost-effective in the long run. “Currently, we are undergoing significant transitions within our team, which can be challenging to implement,” Jenn remarked on the company switching from one system to another. Previously, Hapi had different systems in place, which required project managers to connect and communicate with clients using multiple platforms. The inefficiency and frustration caused by this approach ultimately resulted in higher expenses, as people tended to leave their jobs when they lacked the proper tools and feel stuck. This, in turn, necessitated the need for new hires.

Investing in the necessary tools could have a tremendous impact on your company, even if you have have to make a financial commitment in that moment. 

The challenge, however, lies in getting people to adopt and become comfortable with the tool. This can be particularly difficult when the tool operates differently at its core compared to what users were previously used to. 

Collecting data and understanding how much time and effort you may be wasting plays a key role in convincing your team to adopt the new system. 

Implementing a new system may seem like you’re starting from scratch, but sometimes you have to make that investment. By effectively managing your resources and project tasks, your sales team can accurately estimate how long certain tasks take. This allows them to adjust their quotes accordingly. 

Rocketlane’s PSA software helps lean implementation teams optimize resource utilization by automating processes, and providing data-driven insights. The PSA tool also minimizes errors and enhances client satisfaction making it a valuable long-term investment for small teams aiming for financial efficiency and sustainable growth.

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Madhushree Menon
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Madhushree Menon is a content marketer at Rocketlane. She mainly focuses on SEO blogs, but also dabbles in other forms of content. A true Hufflepuff at heart, she loves to binge-watch anime, explore new cuisines, and learn new languages.

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