Most Enterprise IT projects fail. According to a study by Mckinsey in conjunction with Oxford, “On average, large IT projects (budgets over $15M) run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted.” Gartner studies suggest that 75% of all US IT projects are considered to be failures by those responsible for initiating them. But with the growing technology penetration in business, can companies run away from digitisation? Far from it. Infact, alignment of business with IT remains on top priority for most companies today.
Companies are looking for ways to make digitisation as a part of their core business strategy. They want to connect to the consumers today through apps, social media and other channels. These companies are looking at ways to ensure that their enterprise IT projects not only synch with the existing infrastructure but also power them to newer growth opportunities in the digital age. A look at 10 tips to ensure success for your enterprise IT projects & solutions:
1. Clear Requirements:
Software is meant to facilitate a business process. A clear understanding of the requirements for the project is a must before initiating the project. Below is an indicative list of few questions that an organisation should answer are as follows:
What are the key objectives of the project?
What are the evaluation criteria for acceptance of deliverables?
What is the software or application developed to accomplish?
What is the expected ROI from the project?
Does the application need to integrate with any of the existing IT Systems?
Evaluate the needs of user groups that are going to use the application. Who will be authorised to view & edit information etc. The key objective of these requirements is to set an agenda on what needs to be delivered for the project. Clarity of requirements is one of the most crucial aspects that can ensure success of an enterprise IT Project.
2. Stakeholder communication plan & Involvement:
An enterprise IT project is not the job of an IT Manager, vendor or third party involved in this business. It is a collective responsibility. The top stakeholders must be able to articulate their vision in terms of what they expect from the project. They should also evaluate the project on regular basis. A clear communication plan, feedback & involvement of the top executives are important for project’s success.
3. Proper Scheduling & Milestones:
Large IT projects are complex, they overshoot budgets & time. The best way to manage these projects is to break them into smaller milestones. These milestones should be aligned to business priorities for the clients. The milestone and project planning should also mark the responsibilities of the enterprise IT Solution vendor & the organisation clearly to avoid any conflicts. A proper and realistic schedule ensures sufficient execution time for the milestones. The skills of the team and their competencies should also be taken into account for a good project schedule. All relevant dates should be proactively communicated to everyone involved.
4. Eliminate Unnecessary Features:
Softwares which try to accomplish everything for everyone usually end up disappointing all. The features that don’t add value for a business shouldn’t be part of the application software. Elimination of unnecessary features is an absolute must at an early stage. The most important features should be prioritised in the scope of work. The features that don’t benefit end users or accomplish no useful task shouldn’t be included in the application. With the growing adoption of mobile devices, it is even more critical to have focused features for the users.
5. Application Design mock-ups for Users:
Design is a great way to sell ideas, communicate & effectively solve problems. The design mock-ups for the application or software can be shared with users on a regular basis. These designs are great ways to get everyone on the same page and understand the user needs. Identify the end user usage patterns? Do the end users prefer mobile screen or use desktops/laptops for work? Share the screens of the designs with users on regular basis for their feedback. Early stage feedback saves time and keeps the development process on track.
6. Review deliverables on regular basis:
End user involvement is one of the best ways to improve the outcome of a software project. The first step is to get the approval of all relevant stakeholders on key deliverables, then ensure that progress is shared with the users of the system. Sometimes, the priorities of deliverables can change according to business dynamics. While deliverables are reviewed by the organisation, authorised users may also be able to communicate any urgent or priority requirements.
7. Use the right technology & approach:
Technology is a tool to accomplish business requirements. The software should be developed to address the pain points of the customer. The right use of technology should be evaluated to serve the business needs. To evaluate the needs of the business, relevant questions may be asked:
Do you need to build a new application?
Do you need Data Migration from existing systems?
Is there an application upgrade required?
What are the security implications for the software?
What are the limitations of existing systems & users?
What platforms are needed?
Where is the application DB going to reside?
A lot of projects go off track because they prioritise technology over business objectives. However, technology should be chosen depending on the business requirement of the client.
8. Build Right teams:
Building the right team for a project is a great competency. The team should have the right balance of people who understand technology & business needs of the customers. The team has the right resources to ensure the success. Building the right team requires good communication to retain the team and get them to deliver on dynamically changing business needs.
Mapping the features against client requirements is critical. The team should have clear and well defined roles. A great team works on synergy effect and understands that technology is meant to solve problems. A good team communicates proactively, especially when something goes amiss. They bring it to the notice of the management at the earliest and fire fight their way out of trouble. They deliver work that meets deadlines, requirements and also the usability aspects of the application. The characteristics of a successful team can be summarised by the following two principles of agile project development:
i) The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
ii) Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
Large scale IT projects can take time & resources. It is important to have a proper resource management plan before initiating the project. A careful evaluation of the key parameters is essential to make the project successful. The organisation’s commitment towards the project in terms of key resources like time, budget, and stakeholder involvement are a must before initiating the project.
10. System Integration & Go live support:
IT Projects are complex. They require time for implementation. Once the project is completed, organisations take time to get used to the processes and digitisation. The best IT teams offer best in class support to ensure that all data migrations from existing system to new system happen smoothly. The deployment of the applications, database migration, setting up of privileges and operational support should be planned for enterprise software. Systems where end users can interact with back-end teams and get their queries resolved improve communication. The Go live support can be a differentiating factor to make an IT Project successful.
Success of an organisation is largely dependent on the way it is run. Some of the best companies around the way are run with the most efficient software systems. According to a recent Gartner survey, Modernisation of the core enterprise applications remains high on priority for organisations around the world. The enterprise IT systems can transform businesses by helping them to modernise their processes with digitisation & prepare themselves to handle challenges in the technology era.