Operational Readiness: A Way to Successful Project Management

Operational readiness is the secret sauce that ensures your project doesn’t just launch but thrives in the long run. It’s not just about getting the facility and equipment ready; it’s about preparing for the day-to-day operations that follow. As a project manager, it’s crucial to identify workstreams, pinpoint critical activities, and allocate resources effectively to achieve this.

However, the traditional project management approach often overlooks operational readiness, focusing instead on the delivery of the facility. This oversight can lead to operational issues post-startup, causing delays in meeting market demand. To avoid this pitfall, it’s essential to integrate an Operational Readiness Plan (ORP) into your project management strategy.

What is Project Readiness?

What is Project Readiness?

In the realm of project management, Project Readiness encapsulates the total preparedness for a given project. It’s not a single-element concern but involves attaining several different objectives.

Let’s detail the benchmarks signifying a comprehensively ready project:

  1. Operational Readiness: This aspect spotlights your organization’s readiness, particularly concerning key project stakeholders. Operational readiness ensures your product is set to deploy, operate, and sustain sans substantial issues. Tattoos its significance, a key component of the project cycle management is having operational readiness goals peppered throughout the project life cycle. In fact, your project scope should reserve enough time to continually peruse operational readiness right from your project’s initiation to design, testing, launch, and beyond.
  2. Leadership Readiness: As a project manager, readiness to lead your team is crucial. This includes clear role clarification, task delegation, deadline prioritization, and productivity maintenance.
  3. Team Readiness: The project team’s preparation is a crucial parameter. While this primarily falls under the project manager’s duties, their influence is limited when working with a challenging, inexperienced, or ineffective team.
  4. Technical Readiness: Pertains to your organization’s preparedness at a technical level. This could include setting in place integral assets like software and hardware, establishing a sturdy infrastructure, or corroborating compliance with applicable data security regulations.
  5. Third-Party Readiness: The readiness of any potential third-party partners or stakeholders forms the final objective.

What Is Operational Readiness?

What Is Operational Readiness?

Operational Readiness is a strategy that prepares a project for daily operations beyond the initial launch day. Most traditional project managers concentrate solely on the delivery of the facility and equipment. However, gaining success in the long term means switching gears and focusing more on Operational Readiness.

Integrating an Operational Readiness Plan (ORP) into your project management approach becomes exceedingly vital. This plan aims to identify and mitigate any risks that may hinder the smooth operation of your facility before the startup. In many organizations, ORP is usually dealt with by someone from Operations, often the manager who’ll be responsible for the facility in the long run.

Components of an Operational Readiness Process

Operational readiness is more than deploying a product or launching a system; it’s about optimizing your project’s success by ensuring the world in which your product will function is equipped to do so.

1. Historical Project Data and Standard Operating Information

Historical project data and standard operating procedures (SOPs) form the backbone of your operational readiness review. These documents offer a detailed guide, providing mechanical insights about past experiences, methods, and strategies employed. Comprehension and maintenance of these resources are essential for clarity and efficiency during project execution.

2. Facility Documents

Facility documents play a crucial role in your operational readiness checklist. These consist of standard operating procedures, equipment documentation, ‘red-line’ or ‘as-built’ drawings, and more. Facility documents help the operations team understand the system, allowing them to locate, identify, and utilize resources appropriately during daily operations.

3. Building Site Operational and Support Personnel

Building Site Operational and Support Personnel are essential in ensuring your project’s operational readiness. Resource planning, shifts, access rights, or transport arrangements are just a few components that fall under mobilization activities. These activities ensure your team is prepared for their roles, enhancing efficiency and reducing the likelihood of operational mishaps.

4. Maintenance and Service Contracts

The operational readiness definition extends to the maintenance and service contracts your project will require after launch. It’s important to clarify these contracts, ensuring you have the proper maintenance, support, and servicing in place. Keep in mind the consequences of wrong data or out-of-scope services, which can result from inadequate preparation. Planning for these contingencies well ahead of time is critical to building a comprehensive operational readiness process.

The 5 key Elements to Assess Operational Readiness

The 5 key Elements to Assess Operational Readiness

To optimize success, operational readiness mustn’t be an afterthought. Instead, it has to be an integral part of project management. This requires an in-depth operational readiness checklist that revolves around five key areas.

1. Are Your Staff Ready?

A crucial element in your operational readiness review is staff readiness. Open-ended questions such as: How many people are necessary for efficient operation? Do our staff members know the communication channels for reporting errors? This should be addressed to understand if you’ve a sufficient workforce with appropriate skills.

How to Prepare Your Staff

While preparing your staff, it’s vital to:

  • Count the available people for each responsibility
  • Understand the communication level based on technicality and simplicity
  • Coordinate among staff members of different participating organizations.

Strategic incorporation of these steps will ensure operational readiness and strengthen the team’s capability for a successful project rollout.

2. Is Your Environment Ready?

The operating environment’s preparedness significantly impacts the achievement of operational readiness. It is consequently essential to gauge if the environment is ready to support and accept the changes resulting from the project effectively.

How to Prepare Your Environment for Launch

In readiness to launch, testing is critical. Regular tests and a great deal of listening will help you understand your design’s usability and accommodate essential adjustments. It’s about operating for others, not just for you or your internal team.

3. Are Your End Users Ready?

Ensuring that your users are ready for the roll-out of your project is another key aspect of an operational readiness definition. A user-ready product is one that is accessible and easy to navigate, enhancing their overall experience.

How to Prepare Your End Users

Consider using lay users to test your product and provide feedback. Their external perspective is fundamental to improving your design and functionality. Ignoring their feedback can be detrimental to your rollout.

4. Have You Considered and Planned for Your Risks?

Risk assessment and planning are must-haves on your operational readiness checklist. It’s all about understanding what can go wrong with your project and finding ways to mitigate or avoid it altogether.

How to Gauge and Prepare for Risks

Consider potential pitfalls and risks associated with your project. This will help you anticipate challenges and develop contingency plans to handle any crisis that may arise, reducing unnecessary surprises and delays.

5. Do You Have a Maintenance Plan?

Your readiness is incomplete without a well-laid maintenance plan. It’s crucial to take into account the post-launch tasks and ensure that proper resources are allocated for continued efficiency.

How to Create a Maintenance Plan

This involves deciding between in-house or external teams for maintenance work, properly assigning tasks, and understanding the specific requirements regarding skills and talents. A well-defined plan will ensure a smooth transition from project launch to operation, setting your project up for success.

Operating Without a Readiness Plan

Operating Without a Readiness Plan

Operating without an operational readiness plan is like walking a tightrope without a safety net. It can be done, but it’s certainly not advisable. If you fail, there’s nothing to save you from the repercussions. Planning your project around an operational readiness checklist keeps everything streamlined and organized.

Potential pitfalls when managing a project without an operational readiness (OR) plan may include:

  • Employee dissatisfaction and turnover
  • Lost revenue from project delays
  • Data security breaches or noncompliance with regulatory requirements
  • Diminished customer experience
  • Complaints from key stakeholders

Considering the fact that 59% of project managers are overseeing two to five concurrent projects at any time, it’s easy to contemplate why operational readiness is pivotal to a project’s success. The role of a project manager in operational readiness involves devising an OR plan for upcoming projects and leading them toward success. Steering a successful project without an operational readiness review or plan in place isn’t an easy task and, in all honesty, is usually quite risky.

Creating and Developing Your Readiness Plan

Creating and Developing Your Readiness Plan

Crafting an OR plan follows a structured approach that eases its creation and development. This process also gives you a standardized method to track productivity and measure success. 

Focus on Training

An essential part of your operational readiness checklist should be focused on Training and Onboarding. Equipping your team with the necessary training material is pivotal to team readiness and overall project success. Depending on the project’s magnitude, you might consider a full-scale onboarding or orientation period.

Budget and Plan Costing

Secondly, Budgeting and Cost Coverage are vital elements of your readiness plan. While OR is often overlooked in the budgeting process, the impact on cost for some projects cannot be underestimated.

Keep in Mind Maintenance

Additionally, your plan should include Project Maintenance. Hiring a dedicated team to oversee project-specific processes, procedures, and systems can maximize productivity. This way, you and your team can concentrate on daily tasks rather than worrying about underlying operational issues. Lastly, inject Quality Assurance (QA) into your procedure. Every successful project maintains a certain level of quality.

Assessing Your Readiness Plan

After developing your readiness plan, an operational readiness review must be conducted. It should raise three pivotal questions:

  1. What elements are in place?
  2. What’s lacking?
  3. What actions are needed to fill gaps?

Addressing these facets produces action steps crucial for creating readiness. Actions could be cultural or physical – like creating change advocates acquiring facilities – and developmental – such as writing procedure manuals and coding applications.

A pre-assessment, leveraging templates and reports, supports your review process. It provides a readiness overview and helps determine critical success factors such as developing change specifications, identifying change targets, and defining roles and responsibilities. At this juncture, every step and its respective resources become part of your project plan, keeping your project on track as it progresses.


Planning is critical, and by aligning your operations with an OR plan, you ensure that you’re providing a safety net for potential peril and, most importantly, headed in the right direction. Keeping your operational readiness checklist meticulously organized may be challenging but crucial for sustained project success. In the above guide, you’ve seen the critical role operational readiness plays in project management. It’s not a one-off task but an ongoing process that needs to be woven into every stage of your project. You can keep your projects running smoothly by budgeting for maintenance, ensuring comprehensive training, and conducting regular readiness reviews. Tailoring your readiness plans to fit your project’s unique needs is essential. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is an example of operational readiness?

Operational readiness often involves meticulous planning for future circumstances like the execution of maintenance work. A demonstration of this concept could be ensuring maintenance contracts are fully established before transitioning the project to the designated team, detailing who is responsible for upkeep tasks.

Q2. What is the meaning of operational preparedness?

Operational preparedness means having crucial elements established, such as operationally competent and fire-control personnel, appropriate resources, vehicles, equipment and systems, well-rounded operational protocols, tailored guidance, and training procedures.

Q3. What are the three components of readiness?

The components of readiness encompass three core aspects: motivation, general capacity, and intervention-specific capacity. Reviewing the Readiness brief can offer further insight into these concepts and the steps required for their assessment.

Q4. What is an operational readiness checklist?

An operational readiness checklist is a systematic project evaluation tool that sets forth pre-launch processes and requirements to prepare a project to kick start or restart. This checklist is executed before the commencement of new processes or resumption of existing methods that were shut down.

Q5. What are the pillars of operational readiness?

Operational readiness is strengthened by aligning its three foundational pillars: people, process, and technology. These pillars must be well-coordinated to secure successful operational readiness.