Did I Start With the End in Mind?
How to Ensure Your Next IT Project's Success
Too often, IT managers go about things from a technology perspective. What's wrong with that? That's our job, right? Well, not anymore. As businesses recover from post-recession bumps and setbacks, there is a huge grab for market share and both an internal and external demand for productivity gains. In many ways, these demands rest squarely on the shoulders of the IT department and, ultimately, the manager of that department.
And when you couple cash-strapped budgets with a demand for technological solutions, the expectations climb rapidly for both productivity and sales gains that can be tracked directly to the IT department and its strategic-and forward-looking-thinking. This can be an opportunity for IT managers to shine like never before. But it can also cause failures to be showcased with a spotlight.
To be sure you have the winning solution, make sure you have asked yourself the following 10 questions:
1. Do I have a specific business reason for starting a project?
One of the most common reasons IT projects fail is because they didn't have a clear objective to begin with. Don't start with the technology. Start with the purpose.
2. Have I established a steering committee?
Make sure you have a committee that has representatives from all of the stakeholders to be served by the technology once implemented. Empower them to determine the goals and objectives. This steering committee should have no more than 10 members, including a designated executive sponsor who makes sure decisions are made in a timely manner.
3. Have I studied the way people who will use the technology do their jobs?
Don't assume that just because they have been doing things a certain way for years, that it means those are the most-effective ways. Any new technology implementation offers an opportunity to determine the most effective way (which may be a new way) for people do their jobs.
4. Have I involved the people who will use the solution in its development?
This doesn't just mean the steering committee. And, without the ultimate users' buy-in throughout the process, you run the very real risk that users will sign on to the project but won't use the resulting solution. Telling users, "We're from the IT department. We're here to help," is not enough to win their allegiance.
Did I Start With the End in Mind?
5. Did I start with the end in mind?
Whatever the project is designed to do, you will need to manage it. Anticipate the best way to do that in advance, and then build it into your solution from the beginning.
6. Am I going to be blindsided by the inevitable?
You know that almost any technological solution will eventually need to grow. How are you going to scale it? How are you going to back it up? How does it fit into your disaster recovery strategy? How will you plan for and implement future additions and upgrades?
7. Have I built this new technological solution with the same discipline I would apply to any other project?
If you don't do your homework upfront, you risk falling into the trap of letting the tool decide what you are going to do instead of figuring it out for yourself.
8. Am I proceeding incrementally from one success to another?
If you've been keeping your users involved, they will become increasingly comfortable with the changes required in their jobs as you go forward.
9. Did I remember to consider the user experience along the way?
When you think about the user experience, think technological additions that make the users' jobs easier. These can be little things, but little things often count more than the big ones when it comes to winning people over to new technology. In the end, users will be the ones who determine whether the project is a success.
10. Have I appropriately managed expectations?
Many projects fail because sponsors and/or users have phase-five expectations at phase one. It's important to get users excited about the project, but it's better to do so by integrating ideas into the design than it is by promising more than you can deliver.
Kevin Peterson is the Director of Application Solutions for Logicalis. Kevin is responsible for driving the direction of the company's technical solutions and offerings. As a 15-year technology and engineering veteran, Kevin brings a wealth of solution architecture and delivery knowledge to Logicalis. Kevin came to Logicalis more than 10 years ago through the acquisition of Puget Sound Systems Group, a respected Seattle professional services provider. Throughout his career with Logicalis, Kevin has held numerous positions including development lead, application architect, managing consultant, and director of Microsoft application delivery. Prior to joining Logicalis, Kevin spent five years in the aerospace industry. He can be reached at email@example.com.