IT projects are hard to manage and sometimes it can be hard to fathom what is actually required as a solution. Hurdles and failures are common outcomes for a large proportion of projects that are not managed effectively.
IT project issues
Whilst there are countless reasons as to why IT projects are difficult to manage, there are some more common problems that occur that can be easily avoided to make the process much easier.
Lack of project mandate
Outlining a project mission and objectives is key as it acts a project blueprint. A project mandate is often particularly useful when projects veer from their intended path as there is a clear outline to head back to and continue following.
Every key decision during an IT project should relate back to the mandate. The mandate should include project justification, high-level requirements, success criteria and budget guidelines. Often, mandates are overlooked as an unnecessary document when, in reality, they are the backbone of a project.
Unclear project expectations
You cannot rely on an IT project mandate alone. Sometimes project managers can begin on the wrong foot by failing to gather details from all stakeholders about their requirements and expectations. Spending time to complete this critical step and circulate the project expectations in writing will ensure all parties are working towards the same goals. Without identified project expectations project managers will have conflicting ideas and the project will fail to progress and complete.
Project managers need to act as translators between different departments, as well as between IT and the client. Everyone will be speaking different technical languages and all parties will have different levels of experience. Miscommunication can seriously derail projects and put efforts back by days, weeks or months. Project managers have a big job on their hands to liaise between the different bodies involved.
Forgetting about the end user
Beavering away to get a project from spotting a challenge to resolving an issue can be a lengthy process. However, there is no point completing anything unless the end user is involved at some stage. Many IT projects contain the transformation of current business processes, so it is vital that end users are given an adoption process and are listened to throughout a project as their input is invaluable. Driving forward with a project without this level of communication can result in a completed project that is useless from an end user point of view.
Can we make IT projects easier to manage?
Keeping an eye on the common challenges with IT projects helps keep projects on track as much as possible. As well as relying on the skill and judgement of technology experts, the input of parties well beyond IT is needed to see a project through from beginning to end.
Whilst IT projects are notoriously hard, and we have highlighted some of the more common issues, why they fail so frequently is still confusing/uncertain/unknown. Many experts believe that, in short, organisations fail to recognise just how complex their project is going to be and do not have the expertise to bring it to fruition.
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