Wish I Had Known That

It is often important to understand where other projects went wrong in order to avoid facing those problems again. To better ensure the success of a project, the project manager should remain aware of the following issues:

The delivery of business benefits must remain a senior-level priority throughout the project.

■ Remain focused on measuring the business improvements-measuring can make them happen.

■ Benefits come from exploitation by the system owners and users. Allow enough time to prepare and train them, or they will not be able to exploit the system effectively.

■ Project managers should recognize that, in addition to the expected benefits, they need to allow for other benefits to emerge, as the capability of the new system becomes better understood.

■ Installing a new solution achieves nothing on its own. Do not expect the supplier to deliver the business benefits.

■ At the end of each project, conduct an independent review to confirm that planned benefits have been realized and that the lessons learned are recorded and applied to future projects.

■ Focus on the business benefits, then the technological ones.

■ Project managers should only approve projects when they are confident that the projects support business objectives, and they should then make the support public. Senior management sponsorship is vital.

■ Plan to achieve measurable improvements.

■ Don't "leave it to the professionals." If a project manager delegates responsibility for the management of a project or program, it must be to someone who is accountable to the Board for delivering the business benefits.

■ Plan sufficient resources for training.

■ Review projects to confirm that planned benefits are being realized.

LESSONS LEARNED FOR UNDERSTANDING PROJECT STRATEGY

Lessons learned that apply to business strategy fall into the domain of the senior executives, as most strategic decisions are made within this group.

Some of the immediate lessons executives may learn include the following:

■ CEOs insist on a project being carried out because they want it done. These approaches are often successful; however, there are just as many projects that fail to get off the ground, as these projects often consume vast resources and are not in the company's strategic portfolio.

■ Strategy-makers at all levels should remember that they are on the same team.

■ Businesses should analyze and fully understand the implications of the introducing new IT systems for their organizations.

■ Major IT systems cannot be introduced in isolation from wider changes to the business; therefore, it is essential that businesses thoroughly analyze the implications of implementing a new IT system. Failure to manage change is likely to result in IT systems that do not meet business requirements or in delays in implementing key operations. It may also mean that business users are unable or unwilling to obtain the most from the system. Introducing new systems should be based on clear business requirements. Analyzing and writing a good statement of business needs requires a wide understanding of the business, its processes, the supporting information flows, and future business needs. The business requirement specification must include implementation and operational needs. It is not always possible to specify fully the requirements in advance—a well-planned project should be able to take advantage of requirements and capabilities as they are discovered, provided that they are judged relevant to the core business objectives and do not increase risks disproportionately.

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