Project Management

  • Improving the chances of IT project successBy Ken Norland
    Associate

    The statistics are disheartening. A 2013 McKinsey survey confirmed what’s been an “open secret” for years: 71% of large IT projects have cost overruns, and on average these projects deliver 56% less value than predicted.

    Why? What causes these problems, and what can you do to improve the chances of IT project success?

  • Hybrid approach for multi-site conferencesBy David Haedtler
    Principal

    Last year I was asked to plan and facilitate a two-day conference for over 140 engineers and researchers. Participants included representatives from universities, industry, national laboratories and federal agencies. The goal of this meeting was to brainstorm potential innovations in a particular field, explore these ideas and come to a consensus regarding which ones were worthy of further funding.

    It was an important conference about important work, but there was a catch: the participants would be physically sitting at six different sites from coast to coast. My challenge was to make this multi-site conference work.

  • An often overlooked way to use social media in the wine industryBy Steven McIntosh
    Associate

    Part of my consulting practice involves a lot of work with wineries. I've found that smaller wineries – those that sell less than one million cases per year – are always looking for ways to increase winery direct sales. Many ask me for advice on ways to use social media in the wine industry to gain greater access to customers, increase customer loyalty and increase sales.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Evaluating IT delivery modelsBy Stephen McGrady
    Associate

    A big question facing many CIOs today has to do with the changing nature of enterprise IT organizations. What is the best delivery model for the applications on which their businesses depend? Should they keep everything in-house? Should they keep the servers and applications on-premises but outsource all of the development and/or management? Or would it be better to switch to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, and let others handle it all?

    While I cannot give you a one-size-fits-all answer, I can provide a framework for the evaluation process. Here are some of the most important questions you need to ask:

  • How to Help Your Project Manager SucceedBy Ken Norland
    Associate

    In my last article I gave some in-depth advice regarding “Picking the Right Project Manager for Your IT Project.” Once you have selected this person, it is your job as CIO to help your project manager succeed. The best way to do that is to ensure that your project manager is allowed to manage.

    What prevents project managers from managing?

    In my experience, the two most common problems that prevent project managers from actually managing are:

    1. Micromanagement from above – The people who oversee the project but are not in the project, start micromanaging the process.

    2. Misunderstanding of the project management role – The road to IT project failure is often paved by project managers who only take the “project reporter” role and not the “manager” role. These people attend or lead meetings, take notes, list issues and report on them to management. But they don’t drive these issues and problems to solutions and project progress – they wait for someone else to do that. This approach is guaranteed to fail in tough projects.

  • 7 Key Cybersecurity TacticsBy Scott S. Smith
    Security Practice Lead

    Given the fact that many organizations experience near-continuous cyberattack attempts, if you have not already done so, getting a robust cybersecurity plan in place is a must. This plan needs to be tailored to address your organization’s business requirements, culture and risk tolerance around cybersecurity. It also will need to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and laws, and include plans for how to respond if, in spite of your best efforts, a security breach takes place. You don’t want to be in Equifax’s situation, where a hacker’s ability to exploit what was most likely a known weakness has now put millions of consumers’ identity and financial security at risk. The government, your customers and the general public are all losing their tolerance for disasters that happen when known problems are ignored.

  • 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
  • Increasing Business / IT Alignment When Getting from Need to SolutionBy Paul Hoekstra
    Associate

    It has been estimated that over 70% of all system outages are a direct result of changes that have been made to the operational environment. It's no coincidence that at many organizations, IT has in effect lost control of the production environment and is in constant firefighting mode. The regular unpredicted downtimes, missed deadlines and cost overruns deteriorates the value of the IT organization as a whole and the trust in the CIO in particular.

  • Introduction to the outsourcing lifecycleBy Jeff Richards
    Managing Partner

    Regardless of what services you wish to outsource – Manufacturing, Data Center, Applications Management, Call Center, Business Process or Supply Chain – there are multiple ways to approach your outsourcing journey. As with any significant transformation of your business model, it is always best to follow an organized and methodical approach. The exact approach you choose will be determined by many things, including:

  • Mark has joined CIOPS as an Associate.  Here’s his recent article on CIO Leadership styles:

    Neustar Inc. is a global information services provider and a leader in connection science, but it faces the same challenges as any other organization. For Mark Tonnesen, the chief information officer, chief strategy officer, and vice president of operations, the focus remains on the end consumer, and how to deliver a product better, faster, and cheaper.

    “We may be selling our products and services through a B2B model, but we still have to consider the end consumer as we think about design, packaging, and delivering those products and services,” Tonnesen says. “To me, the new challenge is how we can package those in a way that we can deliver them faster, continuously meeting or exceeding their expectations, so we have the immediacy of new features and functions, or pricing and discounting and packaging together as one.”

    Read more at Sync Magazine...

  • The fast approach to the EAP processBy Stephen McGrady
    Associate

    As I mentioned in a previous article, I’m a big believer in Enterprise Architecture Planning. However, I’m also a realist. I know that in today’s hyper-competitive and very fast-moving business environment, about the only enterprises that are enthusiastic about going through the full nine-month or one-year EAP process are government agencies. Everyone else needs results now.

  • Overcoming technology debtBy Jeff Richards
    Managing Partner

    Life at a Nonprofit

    For the past 2-1/2 years I’ve been the interim CIO at the YMCA of Silicon Valley – my fourth non-profit client since 2009. My experience is limited but I’ve seen a trend emerge.

    Senior executives at non-profits are usually wonderful people who are very passionate about what they do. They’re very good at focusing on their mission and the services they offer to meet this mission. They have a clear understanding of who their constituents are. More often than not they have spent their entire career at their current organization or one that’s similar.

  • How to pick the right project manager for your IT projectBy Ken Norland
    Associate

    In my previous article about “5 Ways to Improve the Chances of IT Project Success,” I stated that the first thing you need to do is to pick the right project manager for the job. While this is really not a big deal for small projects, for large projects that involve lots of people, picking the right project manager can mean the difference between success and failure.

    6 Things to Look for When Hiring a Project Manager

  • Change management is necessary for even minor projectsBy David Haedtler
    Principal

    I've seen it happen many times in the IT world. There's a project to implement a supposedly simple software upgrade, such as Microsoft Office, and the IT people only see it as a technical change. Sure, the screen will be a little different on the new version than on the old, but who cares? It's still Office. They'll get used to it.

    Then changes are made, the migration is completed and everything goes to hell in a hand basket. As it turns out, lots of people – including some very important people within the organization – did care about a particular menu or command that no longer exists. And lots of people are moaning and groaning about their decreased productivity because the new system is so confusing and different.

  • Selecting the right IT product – a proven processBy David Haedtler
    Principal

    The decisions made about major IT issues – such as selecting the right IT product for your enterprise – can have an enormous impact on your organization's productivity and success. That's why clients often engage our services when they're faced with making software/vendor procurement decisions. They want to ensure that the contract is awarded to the product and vendor that is the best fit, not simply to the sales person with the closest ties to the CEO or other decision maker.

    For important IT decision making, such as choosing enterprise software, the secret to success is to define your selection criteria first, and then see how each of your options stacks up. Here is the proven process that I recommend:

  • Getting a new project started on the right road from the beginning is critical to making sure you actually get to the right destination.

CIO Professional Services LLC is a top-rated IT consulting firm, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in strategic IT consulting and business / IT alignment. Companies come to us seeking assistance with their information technology strategy as well as to source interim CIO / CTO employees or fractional CIO / CTO's. Our IT experts can assist with integrating IT into your business processes - better - up to and including 'project rescue' in areas such as ITSM / ITIL, IT service strategy, and IT outsourcing. Business / IT strategy projects we have worked on include upgrading ERP systems, cybersecurity and IT consulting, IT assessment and organizational change. Cloud computing and business IT remain critical in today's business systems, and beyond that to the migration to the cloud of business IT. Our IT consultants can assist with all aspects of business / information technology alignment. Contact us today for a free phone consultation - we service clients not only in San Francisco or San Jose, but throughout the United States.

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