Despite information technology’s growing importance to the workplace, it’s a fact that many IT projects fail either by not delivering expected results or exceeding the budget and timeline.
The question, however, is why?
Why do IT projects fail? More importantly, what can you do about it to counter cost overruns and irrelevant technology solutions?
Those are great questions to ask when planning for the project-failure problem. Very rarely is it the software selected, or the implementation partner involved.
To get you started with the process, 3EN look at four common reasons projects fail and what you can do to prevent them.
From my experience over 35 years of being on the client side, vendor side, or integration partner side, I have noticed 4 common traits of success.
Focus on Communication, and budget for it as part of the lifecycle of the project.
Identify and involve key stakeholders, not only managers and department owners, but the actual people doing the work. Are you addressing the correct problems, will the solution support working practices, are you having users help measure the ROI, and understand the total cost of ownership. Having people involved in the journey, helps them take ownership, breeds understanding, and improves buy-in. Equally, don’t just start by communicating what the project scope is, allow for feedback, approvals, help change management and agree on sign off.
Communication is the lifeblood of any organization. Without it, you won’t know of dangers ahead or be able to respond to them. Project managers won’t be able to complete their assignments because they don’t know what the assignments and goals are.
A similar scene plays out with employees. If they don’t know that change is coming, watch out: they will abandon ship, fast. Employees can and will accept change, but only if it’s positioned correctly and states what’s in it for them, i.e., benefits.
Because of that, it’s important to have regular dialogue among executive management, project managers, and end users. Some refer to the concept as transparency or visibility. Regardless of the terminology, it’s essential to project success.
Also essential is the right kind of communication. It’s better to err on the side of too much rather than too little, but do be aware of where, when, and how communication occurs. You don’t want to flood people’s inboxes, and you don’t want to use interoffice memos. You should instead find a centralized place to disseminate information, which includes the proposed change, training opportunities, and other resources.
If the staff identify a lack of commitment from the leadership team, either in budget, time, priority, or importance, they will follow your lead. If the commitment is not available or visible from the management team, it will not get the commitment from users. Set the plan, the scope, the budget, be clear to everybody what they are, agree on a plan, then commit! Putting of meetings, reviews, updates, project planning, tells everybody “other things are more important” and creates uncertainty, lack of clarity, and undermines the project within the organisation.
Projects flounder and often fail without outcomes, but they will almost always fail without the oversight of a project manager and their team members. These people take the helm of the people, processes, and digital tools in order to bring technology implementations to a positive conclusion. The results speak for themselves; businesses that invest in project management see incredibly high ROI, ranging from 250 to 500%.
The solution here is obvious: assign a dedicated project manager or even a team from your change management department. They will oversee the technology project from start to finish and see it and your employees safely home.
While project managers are beneficial, not all are equipped to manage technology implementation projects. Those who aren’t either will not develop a plan with realistic milestones and an accompanying timeline, or they’ll use an out-of-date planning model that has nothing to do with today’s business environment. Project plans need to correspond with current business trends, specific company objectives, and end users’ needs. If they don’t, the project will quickly capsize, if not hit an iceberg of employee resistance.
You should seek a project manager who will develop a plan that enables company outcomes and expectations. Also look for a person who focuses on delivery dates and can differentiate between scope creep and valid user concerns. You want agility and adaptability coupled with discernment and decision-making skills. What you don’t want is a project manager who fails to plan. It’s always a plan to fail.
Make sure you are sensible with your investment, both financially and emotionally. The number of times a CFO or Business owner asks for discounts to get a job completed or says that “they will get their team to carry out task ABC” and then later ask why timescales have changed, the scope has changed, the budget has changed, is incredible.
At 3EN we have a transparent process that identifies tasks and work breakdown structures to the hour, make it transparent to the client, and on an agreement of the work being carried out, then ask for a discount. The successful tasks are those that pay financially and sensibly, a viable cost for an acceptable amount of work. If you know the time, scope, effort, and agree on the need, calculating the cost is easy. If then you ask for large discounts on that figure, guess what, something is going to give! Quality of person focus of resource, commitment to deliver.No man plans to fail, he only fails to plan. The planning includes the emotional investment, a new system is not easy to implement, you are using your team to run the business as usual, manage change, change behaviour, and impact culture while taking responsibility to implement a new solution.
The emotional investment is substantial and needs to be managed as closely as the financial one. Many times, in the past, I have witnessed or been on the end of burnout, exhaustion, or simply watch people leave because of pressure, anxiety, stress. You need the people who helped you select, design, implement, to be there and celebrate the success of the implementation, not having to think about recruitment