IT Projects – Shorten the odds of Success

Embarking on a successful IT project for any business, be it large or small, public or private and irrespective of industry is an uncertain endeavour.

Depending on the research, project failures can reach up to 68% which is staggering but not surprising when you look at the reasons.

Some of high profile failures in the Irish arena include the health service failed payroll and personnel (PPARS) project and the unfortunately named ISIS project for the credit union movement. They failed for differing reasons and while it is imperative to analyse project failures, it is also equally important to look at the successes.

With the odds clearly stacked against your business,
what can you do to mitigate the risk of your project failing?

There are numerous methodologies that are tried and tested but they don’t suit every business or every project.

Sticking to a core set of key ingredients forms the basis for a structurally sound recipe and in that, the following are recommended:

  • Identify the business need – IT projects are often undertaken because a competitor has implemented it or it’s the next best thing. If the need is not clearly identifiable, don’t progress the project.
  • Engage your business – More specifically the people in your business. You need buy in from everyone that will be impacted. While many projects are led from the top, if you do not have those at the coal face embracing the idea, this is a challenge that is, more often than not, insurmountable.
  • Scope – A potential minefield for IT projects. Why? Scope creep is why. Your business needs a specific defined set of requirements that the project must deliver. Without these, expect to either fail or suffer dramatic increases to timeframes and budget.
  • Resources – Ensure your project has a strong manager. Hire externally if needs be as this is the most important role. Too many businesses try to self-manage projects and fail miserably. Feasible budget and timeframe are crucial to success in addition to the human element.

The overriding ingredient and the one that the successful recipe can’t do without is communication. Communication is fundamental to project success from the outset when you identify the business need through to project deliverables, keeping stakeholders appraised, highlighting challenges, reporting milestones and managing expectations.

Communication includes project documentation and the management of information right through the project lifecycle to closure and knowledge transfer.

Good, transparent, meaningful and timely communication greatly enhances the chances of delivering a successful IT project.

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So, don’t add to the bad statistics. Initiate, communicate, go forth and deliver!

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