The Project Management Institute (PMI) reported that, according to their recent research, 14 percent of all IT projects fail.
While complete failure of a project is certainly undesirable, the PMI study also revealed that among the successful IT projects, 43% exceeded their set budget, 49% were late, and 31% didn’t meet their goals.
These numbers are far from impressive! So how do you prevent your IT project from falling into this statistical quagmire? Consider the following guidelines based on our experience at NCC:
1) Clarify Your Project Goals
It helps to identify your most pressing challenges and address them first. Many companies try to take on more new initiatives than they can actually handle. This causes all projects to suffer due to lack of resources and focus.
The solution: For an IT project to succeed, clear goals and priorities should not only be defined, but followed. Leadership should determine the organization’s long-term goals and create a reasonable, achievable strategy for reaching those goals.
Think about every aspect of the project so that you can strategize for success. For an IT project to be considered a true win, the following conditions should be clearly defined and met:
- Delivered on time
- Delivered within the slated budget
- Stakeholders are happy with the solution
- All goals are achieved
2) End-User Pushback
It’s not uncommon for executives — who may be insulated from the day-to-day workings of an organization — to create an initiative that’s difficult for the end-users to adopt.
For example, the leadership team may realize that the company’s ERP or CRM is out of date or ineffective. Perhaps it doesn’t integrate well with new software, or it’s too costly compared to modern SaaS solutions. With that in mind, the executives may roll out new software with the sweeping assumption that newer is better.
Unfortunately, the staff who work with this software on a daily basis may disagree. In many cases, the new solution is missing important features, or the learning curve is so steep that the operation suffers for weeks or months.
In these cases, the backlash is pretty universal: “I wish they would have asked ME before they changed everything!”
The solution: Assemble a team of end-users to help make project decisions. As the actual users of the technology, they will be able to vet out possible options and ensure that all the features they require are present. As an added bonus, this team can also help you pick out features that are not needed, and potentially save the company a lot of money.
3) There’s Always Risk…So Be Prepared for It
Change always brings a certain amount of risk. It’s unavoidable — but you can get ahead of it by being prepared and planning thoroughly.
Let’s go back to the hypothetical “new CRM” project as an example. Even with proper planning, your IT department may realize partway through the migration that the new platform is missing a much-needed software integration. Or that the variables on the contact lists aren’t carrying over correctly, so hundreds of thousands of contacts will need to be manually edited.
These surprises usually mean one of two things: The project will either take longer than expected to complete, or it will cost more than expected because additional features or tools are needed.
The solution: Due diligence is key, but even after choosing the ideal solution or planning out the perfect project, surprises can come up. These emergent challenges appear far worse when there’s zero margin for error built into the budget or the timeline. Be sure that your strategy accommodates both possibilities…the sudden need for more time or more capital.