Five tips for achieving IT success in 2008

Five tips for achieving IT success in 2008

Summary: Given the ubiquity of failed IT projects, let's close 2007 with my list of five tips that guarantee successful projects in 2008:1. Build a business caseThe business case must rigorously state why the project is necessary, how it supports organizational goals, and describe the resources required to achieve those goals.

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TOPICS: CXO
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Given the ubiquity of failed IT projects, let's close 2007 with my list of five tips that guarantee successful projects in 2008:

1. Build a business case

The business case must rigorously state why the project is necessary, how it supports organizational goals, and describe the resources required to achieve those goals. If your business case can't stand up to careful scrutiny and evaluation, then it's highly likely the project will experience significant downstream problems. We hear a lot these days about "aligning" IT with the business. A solid business case accomplishes this goal, establishing a solid foundation for success from the start.

2. Engage stakeholders early and often

Enterprise IT projects usually involve three groups : the IT department, business and financial stakeholders, and end-users. While the project is being planned, ensure that:

  • The technical aspects are approved by IT
  • The financial and business folks are convinced the project is worthwhile
  • End-users agree the project meets their needs

Failing to gain support from any one of these groups puts an IT project at serious risk.

3. Ensure strong executive sponsorship

Even after achieving buy-in from the three key stakeholder groups, strong leadership is a decisive success factor. While these groups may share overlapping goals, disagreements and conflict can occur as the project progresses, especially when priorities and resource allocations need mid-stream adjustments. A strong executive sponsor brings consensus to the team, preventing organizational gridlock or “management by committee.”

4. Manage vendors wisely

IT projects often involve extensive interaction with software vendors, consultants, training providers, and other external resources. If third-party relationships are not managed well, even the strongest in-house team may have trouble concluding the project successfully.

When managing both technology and service providers state your expectations clearly. For example, if you want particular milestones to be achieved by specific dates, put that expectation in writing. Also, be sure to talk with vendors about their expectations of you. Success comes from partnership, rather than conflict, with vendors.

5. Embrace and plan for change

Most large-scale technology projects involve transforming how parts of an organization work. This change can disrupt existing workflow processes and cause end-user morale problems. Recognize that change is difficult and allocate sufficient time and resources to help users with the transition. Don't consider change management and user education to be optional add-ons; they are essential ingredients for project success.

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I've enjoyed writing this blog in 2007 and want to thank you for reading. May 2008 bring you many successful IT projects!

Topic: CXO

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5 comments
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  • NOT SO SIMPLE

    Take Tip 1: Build a business case. I don't know about you, but I've seen plenty of situations where upper management believes that technology is magic-- it will fix all. A swipe of the wand and presto--- and how pushing it's decision down through the management layers is "algnment." Has any body every seen an organization look at itself and say "How can we do (run) it better? and then look at where having technology actually supports the organization or process?" I haven't because taking this approach requires an investment of time, and is at odds with the belief in "magic."

    Take Tip 3: Ensure strong executive sponshorship. The observation here is true, and works well when the technology being adopted / implemented is meant to deliver incremental improvement. But companies that want transformation, you want the CEO (the Man), because these changes are most likely to blow up and the executive who can assure the enterprise that the company will do what is necessary to see things through.

    Michael has it right, but it's not so simple.
    elizab
  • Those are good suggestions

    Pity they are seldom implemented. Engaging the stakeholders is particularly important. There's a weird dynamic that happens when developers and customers are separated by too much process.
    Chad_z
    • Amazing they are not implemented more

      On the other hand, if all these points were implemented on most projects, there would be no need for this blog!
      mkrigsman@...
  • RE: Five tips for achieving IT success in 2008

    Great tips Michael. My favorite is tip 5. Business process ramifications and the required associated change management are often overlooked. The one item I would add would be to establish and maintain a great Communication Plan. It is essential to know what decisions are required through the life of the project to ensure success, who is accountable for those decisions and what data they need to make the decisions. It is critical to provide that information in a timely and tailored manner.
    Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist
    http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/
    Steve Romero
  • RE: Five tips for achieving IT success in 2008

    Hi Michael,
    Love checklists...our focus is project leadership, so to put a twist on the list, we turn them into questions to promote ownership(e.g., "What do we need, what can I do, to create an appropriate business plan"). We want SAP, customer, and partner leaders to take responsibility for the answer, and not simply "tick the box."

    I have a draft post with some examples coming up...

    Best,
    Paul
    http://crossderry.wordpress.com
    crossderry