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The People Side of IT Project Delivery

IT projects are just as susceptible to failure as projects in any other industry. Why is that? There aren’t supplier or building materials to deal with; there is no impact on the project because of bad weather. So many factors go into making a project successful.

Before a project is even started, there needs to be strong executive support in order for the project sponsor to do their job effectively.

Next, there needs to be the right business people brought to the table as part of the project team. Before the first line of code is even written, there needs to be a clear and consensus understanding of the business requirements that the project is intending to satisfy. Often times, business leaders are reluctant to spare their top people and thus more junior resources are assigned to the project as subject matter experts, often without the knowledge or experience needed to make the right decisions when it comes to shaping the requirements that will ultimately steer the project.

Then there comes the decision of buy or build. Is there a COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) solution out there that meets the needs of the business? Is there more value in building a custom solution? This is an entirely different topic which I’ll discuss in a future post but certainly a key decision that needs to be made by the business.

During the implementation of the project, change management is a commonly overlooked or undervalued task. A lot of businesses assume that as long as they provide their people the right training on the new incoming system, that it will be a success. This is a dangerous assumption and efforts during this phase of the project should be focused on creating buy-in for the system, establishing departmental or team champions to help with the overall adoption of the solution. Training is just a small piece of successful change management. Advertise why this solution will help them do their jobs better, demonstrate the value of the solution by holding lunch-and-learn sessions. Get people excited to use the new system and sell them on what makes it the right decision for them and the business.

IT projects are not easy to successfully deliver. Often times the majority of the focus is on the design and build of the system, rather than the more intangibles that I’ve discussed here. Get proper executive support, include the right people to make the business decisions and sell the rest of the staff on the value of the new system.

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