Recognize These Red Flags to Stay on Track

While the divide between the business and technology sides of the house has narrowed in recent years, there are still times when both sides point their fingers and lob mortar shells of blame at each other. Since none of that actually solves a problem:

The trick, then, is to stop worrying about blame (easier said than done), figuring out how to move past it (ditto), and, eventually, learning how to redefine business processes so that when technology projects start to fail in the future, your organization will know how to get them back on track (like pulling teeth).

So says Jeff Vance in CIO Update. And, yeah yeah, we’ve heard this before. It’s no simple task to get the constituencies involved to work together (Vance lists them as executives, the project team, IT and systems administrators, the specific tech or vendor team and, on big projects, the company’s board of directors. Oh, joy.) But it should help if you can recognize eight warning signs that a project is in trouble. Then all those stakeholders should be able to address the ones that pop up. And those warning signs are:

  • - Excessive overtime, an indicator of poor project planning.
    - No one on the business team “owns” the technology project.
    - No one on the IT side understands larger business goals and how the project serves them.
    - The project lacks someone (like a tech-savvy, business-aware project manager or business analyst) who can translate the language of business for IT and vice versa.
    - There are no benchmarks for measuring progress and no contingency plans for when conditions change and threaten success.
    - IT and business goals are never written down and aligned.
    - No one can articulate what a successful outcome means to both business and IT.
    - Poor (or no) change management. By definition, successful technology projects bring change, yet most organizations erroneously believe that post-project life will be business as usual.

“Group psychology is tricky and incredibly hard to counter,” Vance notes. That’s for sure. But it’s got to be conquered for any project to succeed.

– Don Willmott

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