How to Ensure Your Next IT Project's Success

There is a fundamental shift taking place in the way IT is viewed in a company's infrastructure. Rather than residing in the background, quietly keeping systems up and running, IT managers are increasingly expected to devise ways that technology can provide their companies a competitive edge. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Kevin Peterson offers IT managers 10 questions to ask before starting any new technology implementation.


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.