vendredi 25 avril 2014

What does it take to be successful with IT Projects?

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IT Project Guiding Principles

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Over 70% of IT projects fail to deliver their promised value. What can you do to avoid some of the pitfalls along the way?
This article is a follow-on to a previous article on Success with IT Projects and tries to build on those thoughts with some guiding principles (no apologies for repeating a couple of really important things from the previous article!!). Some of the principles are more applicable to larger projects, but in a reduced form also apply to smaller undertakings.
Feel free to comment on this article and provide your own thoughts on principles I might have missed.
  1. 1. Business Projects NOT IT projects

    • IT should not be the driving force behind the project
    • Unless the Business wants the project, why are you doing it? (see my article Implementing Technology for the right reasons)
    • Be clear on the business value, this helps to align everyone behind the project

  2. 2. Executive Sponsorship
    • A senior executive must champion and be the cheer leader for the project
    • Without that change management becomes very difficult
    • See my article on the importance of Change Leadership

  1. 3. Business Lead

    • The IT project manager (PM) should not lead the project, you need a good business leader
    • The Business Lead will often need to be full time (essential for Large projects)
    • They need to work hand-in-hand with the PM
    • Note the difference between the Business Lead and the Sponsor – the Business Lead is heavily involved in the project day by day, the Sponsor is at a higher level and provides assistance only as needed
    • The Business Lead with typically be a manager from the business area most impacted by the project, so they will know the processes and the people involved

  2. 4. Build a strong team -> Get the Right people assigned (full time for large projects)

    • This is tough, as you need the A players
    • Without them you are going to struggle
    • This is where the Executive Sponsorship and a strong Business Lead are essential
    • BUT (for larger projects) the people you pick for your team must be backfilled (they cannot continue in their existing roles). Otherwise you will be in a constant struggle for their attention and time

  3. 5. Alignment

    • All of the executive team, management team etc must remain aligned and heading in the same direction – without this you get constant challenges and disruptions
    • If necessary, be prepared to stop the project until alignment can be achieved

  4. 6. Organisational Change Management

    • Biggest cause of project failure is lack of proper Organisational Change Management
    • Must have a formal, structured approach (it’s NOT just a communication plan & a training plan)
    • Often starts years before the project and goes on throughout (for large initiatives)
    • See my various articles on Change Management for a more in-depth discussion on the importance and keys to Change Management success

  5. 7. Structured Project Methodology

    • A structured project approach is essential, be it waterfall, agile or …
    • Help everyone to understand the methodology and stick to it
    • Scale the methodology correctly to the project
    • Use Stage Gates properly – do not pass thru a gate until you are ready – if necessary STOP or pause
    • Avoid short-cuts

  6. 8. Process First then Technology?

    • Traditional approach is to sort out the process first, then look to technology for solutions
    • However, more common these days is what Gartner refer to as ‘Package based development’ – or put another way, define your to-be processes around how your chosen tool is designed to work
    • That way you take advantage of the best practices the tool already embraces and you avoid unnecessary customisations
    • It also stops you falling into the trap where you are unable to find a tool to implement the utopian to-be process that you have defined

  7. 9. Get clarity up front

    • The cost to rectify or add to the scope goes up x10 for each project stage you go past (e.g. in analysis x 1, in design x 10, in Build x 100, in Build x 1000, in Launch x 10000 etc)
    • So make sure your requirements as clear as early as possible in the process
    • Iterative approaches with the end customer, like Agile, are useful in this regard
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