There is always something to deploy. A new rule, a revised template, a new security procedure, a change in organization. This is why the monthly "Sprint" deployment method for international standards, once established, tends to outlive the program that introduced it. At first, it seems an effort requiring significant additional time and investment. Indeed, initially it often is. Once accepted as valuable method and integrated into existing meeting routines, the additional effort reduces to a monthly hour or two during scheduled departmental meetings. It is essential to have senior and junior managers actively involved, since they play a role equivalent to the parental role model and control in the teeth brushing example above. Deployments are driven by management, regardless of the level of support given by a roll out project team and regardless of the fact that there will exist more detailed multiplier meetings for the experts. Deployment should get suspended every time management cancels its sessions.
When deployment sessions are initially launched, they often bring out the pent up frustrations about the lack of progress on known pain points, such as excessive administration or inadequate tool support. Rather than reacting defensively, management and the project team should take the complaints seriously, take them on and redirect the energy to show how the issues can feed into the development process, the deployment process and lead to the continuous improvement. It is an excellent chance for management and the team to show it is prepared to take the front line seriously and to improve operations, even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first.
The agenda of each deployment session consists of three basic items: what new items are we rolling out this month, how is the roll out of last month's topics going, and what is the compliance feedback on the topics rolled out two months ago and before? Once it becomes clear to all management and staff that roll out intentions are serious and that compliance will be independently reviewed and transparently reported, the program picks up speed. To allow for this initial period of disbelief, it is a good idea to begin with items management believes are practiced already. At best, everybody will see how the deployment cycle works and that there is no escape. More likely, managers can reinforce things that should be common practice and close compliance gaps before the independent reviewers turn up. At worst, the lack of practiced standards is revealed, demonstrating that the deployment challenge is larger than initially thought.
Regarding the new items for roll out, the meeting symbolizes the kick off for this practice by all management and staff. Having gone through the development process by the councils, the item itself is not negotiable any longer. However, considerable effort should be invested in explaining the deployment items, checking understanding and clarifying open questions. The preparation required for this phase should not be underestimated. The quality of the communication material must be top, the management meetings efficient and the teams should use all modern communication options available to brief the target audience, including websites, web conferences, downloads, teaching videos and hosted e-learning sessions.
The second agenda point on roll out progress is executed by the senior management of each department, pointing out on one page what is going well and where the challenges are. Initially some managers will try to get away with merely some verbal comments, but encouragement by the project owner to do better and peer pressure will usually lead to well prepared appearances within a few months of launching the roll out program. It turns into a session where department leaders compete to show how serious they are about making deployment progress and what creative solutions they have found to deal with challenges.
The third agenda point on compliance feedback is handled by independent quality reviewers. This does not necessarily mean that the quality department takes the lead, a peer review system can work just as effectively, if the rule of genuine independence is respected. However, the reviewers must be trained to work in a consistent way and must know what to look for. After the time to implement the roll out item has expired the independent reviewers go out and check the compliance in the relevant projects or departments. They either confirm compliance, or they issue a notice of non compliance if something is not applied. Every non compliance in turn gets a deadline by which it must be fixed, usually within 2 - 3 weeks. The reporting covers the sample of checks, the ratio of compliances to non compliances and the overdue non compliances at department level. The latter is important to build up the peer pressure: nobody wants to top the list of non compliances and nobody wants to have overdue non compliances for all managers and senior managers to see.
The deployment process culminates in the audit by external certification authorities. By this time, the group should have a high level of confidence that the audit will be successful. When in doubt, it is advisable to run selective pre-audits on specific areas to give everyone a change to make final adjustments before the real audit happens. The roll out should end with a proper celebration of program completion and the corresponding certification or internal achievement reward.