Your IT project is doomed

Your-IT-Project-is-Doomed

Your IT project is DOOMED. But don’t worry, you are not alone.

What is it that forces IT projects to the dark side? The issues aren’t new:

  • Resources are not qualified or do not have the appropriate skill set to execute the project
  • Requirements are not well defined or change throughout the project
  • Schedule is not clear or next steps are not well understood
  • Risks are unknown and unexpected, especially during production deployment
  • Exit strategy is unclear and not agreed

IT doesn’t have to be this way.

Pizza Time

As discussed in our previous PMO blog here, the 1E project delivery methodology is designed to combat these common missteps by following a structured delivery process.

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Every 1E project is segmented into the following stages:

  • Customer Training
  • Discovery and Requirements Formalization
  • Existing Environment Health Check
  • Solution Design
  • Lab Implementation and Test Plan Execution
  • Production Solution Implementation
  • Pre-Pilot Execution
  • Formal Pilot Roll Out
  • Project Close and Hand Over Activities

By implementing a standard delivery process, both the project team and the customer stakeholders understand where the project is and where it needs to go.

In addition, the 1E project methodology sets itself apart by implementing tools and processes at key project stages. The following highlights common project issues addressed by this approach:

Resources Not Qualified

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An unqualified resource can hinder a project as quickly as a product bug.

  1. 1E Project Managers – Can you do that faster? All 1E Project Managers are PMI (PMP) and/or PRINCE certified with over a decade of combined 1E experience, and several decades of enterprise software experience. 1E Professional Services as a whole works on over 100 projects each year, which allows for constant refinement of the delivery process based on lessons learned.
  2. 1E Consultants – Since the days of SMS. The 1E Consultant team is a global team of certified experts in 1E products & Systems Management with an average of 10+ years industry experience. During all projects, 1E Consultants perform an intensive transfer of knowledge and best practices to the customer, focused on the unique characteristics of the implementation and environment. Our consultants have a proven track record of IT cost optimization while increasing efficiency.

Requirements Not Clear; Priorities not agreed

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Requirements are critical to project success; it’s impossible to know if you succeed if you don’t know how success is defined.

1E has a 3-step process when tackling requirements: Statement of Work, Requirements Definition, and Incremental Deliverable Sign Off:

  1. Statement of Work – You should be able to read my mind! The Statement of Work is the first artifact of a project that defines both scope and success metrics. SOWs definitely aren’t new, but creating a detailed SOW isn’t easy. 1E has a detailed and focused SOW Customer Questionnaire that gleans information about both the customer business and technology landscape. The goal with this interview exercise is to help the customer think holistically about what a project with 1E looks like, including business goals, objectives, and technical expectations.
  2. Requirements – What would you say you do here? In support of the SOW document, it’s critical to specifically define project requirements during the discovery and project kickoff phase. During SOW creation, business goals are defined and agreed, but tech specifics need to be further defined at the start of the project. Occasionally SOWs are fast tracked through the procurement process and the proper technical attention isn’t given from a customer perspective. Properly defining requirements is the catch all to ensure expectations are specified, communicated, and agreed. This also ensures the actual client tech folks working on the project and directly affected, have a chance provide input, add requirements, and identify concerns.
  3. Incremental Deliverables Sign Off – Are we there yet? Knowing what is needed is important, but knowing when the finish line is reached is equally important. Incremental sign off on deliverables as the project progresses helps prevent surprises during a formal project close. Nothing keeps a PM awake at night quite like the statement, “We aren’t done, I never signed off on that.” Incremental sign off allows the entire project team to claim formal and tangible progress throughout the project, not just at the end.

Risks Unknown

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The biggest enemy of a project schedule and budget is unknown risk. These unknowns have the potential to delay a project and force it to go over budget, thereby making the PM and project team look bad.

1E projects use two methods in order to uncover these unknowns as early as possible:

  1. Environment Health Check – Open wide and say ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. For every project, a thorough environment health check is performed. Without a health check, existing customer issues could fester only to appear later in the project, causing delays and surprises. The 1E health check covers a wide range of technology, from CM and networking checks, to security and package practices. By performing a health check early on, issues are mitigated and we avoid building a new technology on top of an existing problem.
  2. Pre-Pilot – It’s the pilot behind the pilot. Most IT projects, once OK’d in the Lab, are rushed to a formal production pilot. That is, emailing a large set of users and having them try this new technology. “Don’t worry, this passed every test case with flying colors in the lab! So the pilot will be no big deal. ” Then, as issues crop up (as production is always different than the lab), the project comes to a grinding halt. All the hard work is immediately undone, and exec stakeholders start having second thoughts.

There will ALWAYS (always, always) be issues during a pilot. In fact, that’s what you want as a project, to uncover issues during the pilot rather than full deployment.

However, lots of issues during a large pilot can be just as damning as issues during full deployment.

1E developed the concept of a pre-pilot. It’s a pilot in the production environment in order to uncover production environment issues, but on a much smaller and exclusive scale. Think of it as a member’s only or VIP sale. Pre-pilot targets a handful of users, preferably friendly IT users, that will provide helpful use cases and feedback, but will understand if issues arise. These users are problem solvers themselves, and will work with the project team to fix issues rather than complaining to the powers that they were inconvenienced. Typical pre-pilot users are IT folks themselves. Be careful though, when getting IT users to take part of the pre-pilot; often their systems are customized, which can nullify a typical user production test.

Exit Strategy

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  1. Training – You must unlearn what you have learned. With Training from 1E, the operational teams will get a thorough understanding of your own implementation and discover how the value of 1E solutions can be maximized year after year. Shouldn’t training be at the start of the project? 1E has found actually that training the project team at the start of the project on new technology leads to better knowledge transfer, discovery sessions, and design. If the customer project team knows something about the 1E products even before the project begins, it goes a long way to ensuring a successful project hand over.

In the end, leverage these key tools at key project phases can move your IT project away from the abyss and into the realm of an on time, under budget, business success!

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