Future State

Part of your project vision is to define what your expected future state is. Defining your future state starts by describing how everything is right now (your current state.) After you have been honest about what reality looks like at this moment, you have to define what you want reality to look like after some time passes. The ingredients of a good future state vision include a definite implementation date and clear outcomes.

An Implementation Date

If you don’t have an implementation date, your future state is a wish. The whole point of future state definition in a project is to know when you have completed the project. And you being done a project means that you have achieved the expected work, but the expected date. You can continue your project forever, but eventually, your change will be too late, and no one will need the change anymore.

Clear Outcomes

Projects often flounder because they don’t have a clear outcome. The sponsor talks about ‘gaining efficiencies.’ The end-users talk about ‘user-friendly,’ but these concepts are fuzzy at best. A clear outcome is something that can be measured by everyone within the project, and by any objective outside observer. We will process 30,000 more transactions a day while maintaining the same number of employees in the accounts payable department is a clear outcome that shows that you have increased efficiency. Reducing the average length of time between tapping on buttons in a related workflow from 1.5 seconds to 0.5 seconds demonstrates that the app is aiding users to know what they should click next (being user-friendly.) If you couldn’t prove to an outside observer, preferably with numbers, that you have achieved your outcome, you need to define your outcomes more clearly.

Define your future state by defining an implementation date and clear outcomes. On that date, you will be able to clearly say whether you have reached your intended future state, or whether you have more work to do on this project.