Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Silo Effect in IT Management

Silo thinking builds the wall in one's mind, creates barriers in businesses and society.             

There are more than two-thirds of IT projects fail to achieve the expected result. IT organizations are suffering too much from the "siloed" effect to accurately define and deliver the promises of many IT projects. The "failure" of an IT project can be defined as (1) Completely behind schedule, (2) Beyond the budget, and (3) Fails to deliver the value or services which the project was promised to deliver. There are many reasons for these things to happen, silo thinking and decision making is one of the significant root causes project failures and low-level IT maturity. 

There is a disconnect between what business wants and what IT thinks business wants. The most important reason for project failure is "not knowing what businesses want.".\ The only way to solve this problem is "co-development" and the concept of "fail fast to succeed sooner."  Frequent and early feedback will mitigate directional problems and ensure the solution delivered is exactly what we want.

The clear business understanding is essential. Where requirements can be solid, if the developers don't really understand what the business is trying to achieve; and the business team may get a 'technically correct' project that just doesn't do what is needed. Still, communication is the two-way street, it is also important in educating the business teams on technology capabilities as well as educating IT teams on business processes and needs to build a strong team, with common ground that can be used to solve the business problems of today.

There should be no such thing as IT Projects. There should only be Business Projects that may or may not have technology as a key component of the project deliverable. Once you start treating projects that way and measure success of Business Projects as a whole, rather than keeping technology ones separate with silo thinking, and ensure that all business units required for the success of the project have requirement clearly defined with engaged stakeholders and with senior business leaders on the steering committee, you will see success of all projects increase. It's not rocket science but takes holistic thinking and planning. IT specialists can only plan their part, but not the part of other services. Architects, on the other hand, are the ones that should have the right balance between technical and interpersonal skills to effectively plan and deliver IT projects (acting as the Technical Co-Coordinator), in conjunction with the PM. 

Due to the siloed" effect, many projects caused several issues to happen to many IT projects (large and small): 1) Project ceases to have clearly defined goals, scope, or requirements. 2) Project team lacks a cohesive knowledge base, meaning that teams do not have the necessary, well-blended talent or knowledge to deliver the project successfully. 3) It gets even worse when projects are designed in the vacuums of siloed IT services, not well communicated with business functions. 4) The actual project team is piecemealed together with little thought given the actual project cycles. People are pulled in and taken out on an ad-hoc basis. 5). Scope and requirements are allowed to fluctuate as the project progresses. 6) Alignment of project teams to actual PM methodologies. 7) Test and validation. Whether performed during or as a last step, this piece is often left off the project due to time, people, or budget constraints. 8). The biggest one of all - Having the right people to actually develop the plans for your IT project.

Either managing project or overall IT functions, IT leaders, and managers have to see the forest beyond the trees, to break down the silo mindset, and think business as a whole and achieve high-performing business result as an ultimate goal.


Great article and great blog, I will share this information with my clients.Thanks for the advice.

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