An experimental or preliminary trial or test of a solution on a limited scale. In general, there is a way to pilot all or some part of every solution or new design that you want to implement.
Why use a pilot?
- Lower risk
- Lower risk of failure by limiting resource usage
- Assess true performance in controlled-but-live experiments
- Confirm or disprove expected results and relationships
- Test and validate the benefit of the proposed solutions before roll out
- Validate your measurement system
- Understand expected variation in the process and its possible impact to the customer
- Improve the ability to better predict monetary savings from a proposed solution
- Improve solution
- Identify additional improvements in either the solution or implementation launch itself
- Improve future projections of benefits of full roll out
- Stakeholder relations
- Increase opportunities for feedback
- Increase stakeholder buy-in
- Quickly deliver a version of the solution to a targeted segment of the client population
What is a pilot?
An experimental or preliminary trial or test of your solution on a limited scale.
When to pilot
In general, there is a way to pilot all or some part of every solution or new design you want to implement. It is almost always worth the extra effort to pilot. Consider doing a pilot when:
- The scope of the design is large
- The new product/service could cause far-reaching, unintended consequences
- Implementing the design and/or solutions will be a costly process
- The design and/or solutions would be difficult to reverse
Traits of a pilot
- Small scale
- Designed to incrementally increase employee involvement
- Utilise simulations — process improvement may be simulated using mathematical or computer-based modelling
How do we do it?
Design the pilot
- What are you trying to do?
- What do you hope to achieve?
- What is the definition of success?
- How are you going to get there?
- Who is impacted?
- From whom do you need help?
- Plan Pilot Purpose and Goals
- Define what needs to be piloted/implemented
- Reference the Project Charter, especially the Project Benefits and Objectives. Will your pilot be able to demonstrate that achieving these is possible?
- Pilot Scope
- Prioritisation matrix can be used to rationally narrow down the focus of the team before detailed implementation planning can happen
- What is the size or boundaries to what will be measured?
- How will you ensure the pilot is as realistic as possible?
- Identify when and where pilots will be run
- Activities List
- Clearly articulate the steps and tasks necessary to test the proposed solutions
- Process it affects
- Determine how pilots will be conducted and length of time
- Pilots should be run for as long as it takes to understand if the process is stable or not
- Determine result tracking needs
- Budget and resources required
- Identify team members, equipment and material to be used
- Plan appropriate training and communications for the pilot
- Documentation required
- Monitoring plan and operational definitions of measurements to collect and goals to be met.
- How will you evaluate results?
- How will you monitor and deal with issues during the pilot?
- Minimise disruptions
Run the pilot
- Collect data on internal and external factors that may be influencing the process
- Expose the pilot to as broad a range of inputs and process conditions as possible
After the pilot
- Collect and evaluate pilot results
- Analyse the gaps between the predicted performance and the actual performance
- Root cause the gaps to determine why and if solution changes are needed
- Analyse the pilot plan. What worked? What didn't? What had to be added or changed?
- Communicate pilot results
- Create a summary of the strategy used to pilot the solution and communicate the results achieved
- Solicit stakeholder feedback
Adjust the pilot plan for any problems or learnings that occurred during the pilot. Also adjust for the difference in the scale of the roll-out.
Do you need to run another (improved) pilot(s) or are you ready to apply the solution?
See GOLEANSIXSIGMA's Pilot Checklist Template