CIO & IT Career Project Management: How to Plan for Success
By Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)
As I work with senior-level IT leaders, IT operations directors, as well as IT program and project managers, I hear more and more about failed technology implementations. Not that the technology itself failed, although that certainly happens too. What really intrigues me is the level of project failure from an operational, functional, and process standpoint.
IT Project Failure: What Drives It?
Where to begin? IT projects fail for so many reasons. Chief among them, however, are reasons that must be considered before any project is initiated. These include:
- A Poorly Defined Existing Process: For a technology integration to work well, a clear understanding of the existing process is vital. If the process–manual or automated–is not mapped out clearly, including all the sub-processes and deviations, there will likely be so many exceptions that the new technology will be deemed a waste and the adoption rate by the business groups will be low.
- A Business Analysis Process That’s Lacking: I am one of those that truly believes the BA portion of the project is the most critical. The BA phase encompasses much of the information from the bullet above, as the functional business unit often does not have their processes mapped out in detail.
- Transformation or Change Management: Finally, an IT deployment is not likely to be successful without having the business embrace the technology, the tools, and the new way of doing things. Without an effective change management plan, many are just going to pay lip service or find a way to do exactly what they do today within the new technology framework, resulting in no real change and no ROI.
How Can the CIO Plan for Success?
So how do you plan for success if you’re the CIO, CTO, or IT Executive?
- Create an environment that fosters excellence in project planning and requirements gathering and analysis, not just on the execution time lines.
- Establish boundaries for your program and project managers in regard to the scope of these initiatives so they are well defined.
- Interface with other business leaders so you can help your teams avoid projects that balloon and cause significant scope creep, which often leads to projects that never really end.
- Cultivate a focus on true organizational change by promoting collaboration with executives, managers, and key line employees from the business disciplines impacted by the new technology. This will drive acceptance, buy-in, and, ultimately, technology adoption.
A recent TechRepublic article presents 5 questions that an IT leader should ask before giving a project the green light.
What strikes me most from the IT career side of things is that many of these same questions should be applied in your approach to your career. Your career is essentially an ongoing “project” always in some stage of the lifecycle, be it initiation and planning, execution, or closure. If you take some of these principles and apply them to your IT career planning, you might find the road a little less uncertain.
What say you? We’d love to hear from you.
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