Do the Hardest Parts of Your IT Project First

An important part of the project risk management puzzleBy Ken Norland
Associate

Many project managers have a tendency to do the easy pieces first and save the hardest parts for the end. This is just basic human nature. However, project risk management for increasing the chances of IT project success means planning for the earliest possible problem detection. If your project has complexities (i.e. “hard parts”) that you can identify early, attacking them first will improve predictability and give you time to recover when the inevitable problems occur.

Turn “3 Miracle” Projects into “Doable” Projects

Years ago I worked at an organization where we would look at a project and say “it will take X number of miracles for us to pull this off in the time allotted.” Those “miracles” referred to the events where we got to a point and said “a miracle is needed here.” And I learned that tackling those gaps in understanding can eliminate most of the need for miracles. Which, of course, makes for good project management.

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Include Time in Your IT Project Plan for Changes

Include time in your IT project plan for changesBy Ken Norland
Associate

If you’ve been in the IT world for any length of time, you know that large IT projects often go awry. Luckily, there are many ways to improve the chances that your IT project will succeed. In my last article I discussed the importance of getting an iteration of your project into end users’ hands as early in the process as possible. This gives you time to adjust mid-stream if necessary (and it usually is). Today I’d like to discuss a closely related topic: Allowing time in your IT project plans to actually make these adjustments.

Most Projects Need Multiple Iterations

Especially when creating IT project plans for large development projects, you need to assume that the project will require multiple iterations. Why? Because:

  • End users need to see early iterations, so they can provide much-needed feedback (as discussed in my last article)
  • Testers need to see early iterations, so they can de-bug their tests while the project is being developed
  • The project team might run into unforeseen technical difficulties, which can require additional iterations to resolve

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Don’t Wait to Get Your IT Project Into End Users’ Hands

An important way to help your IT project succeedBy Ken Norland
Associate

I’ve been writing about some ways that you can help your IT project succeed. In my last two articles I discussed picking the right project manager and then helping your project manager succeed by ensuring that she is actually allowed to manage. Today I’d like to talk about why you shouldn’t wait until the project is “done” before you get it into the end users’ hands.

IT Project Success Depends upon Meeting End Users’ Needs

If your project is aimed at producing something for end users to use, then ensuring that what you produce is what these people actually need and want is vital to the project’s success. We’ve all seen situations, though, where the delivered project perfectly matches the agreed-upon specs but is not accepted by the end users. There are a few common reasons why this happens:

  • End users’ needs evolve over time – If the specs were written six months ago, they probably do not fit the end users’ current understanding of what they need the project to do.
  • End users’ understanding changes as the project materializes – There’s a big difference between reviewing static specs or screen mock-ups and interacting with something live. Even if their needs have not changed at all, it’s common for end users to see what the project team has produced and say “Gee, that’s not what I meant.”
  • End users change – Sometimes by the time a project is delivered, the people who need it have changed. The new people may want it to work a little differently than what the previous people had envisioned.

Read more: Don’t Wait to Get Your IT Project Into End Users’ Hands

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