Wednesday, August 5, 2015

CIO as Chief Improvement Officer: How do you Learn from IT Failures

IT delivery is about People, Process and Technology.

Although the information is the lifeblood of an organization, and technology drives business innovation today, most of IT organizations stick to the level 2 (reactive mode) or level 3 (alignment stage). Most of the businesses perceive their IT as the department less innovative in the enterprise and even the controller to stifle innovation. And many IT organizations are overloaded and under-delivered with a high rate of project failure. How can CIOs as IT leader learn from the failures, reimagine, and reinvent IT organizations to improve IT and overall organizational maturity?

IT delivery is about People, Process and Technology: The first is People. They will drive the processes and technology. Lack of leadership sponsorship can surely hamper a project success, as well not committing qualified resources. Companies would have to make a tough decision to increase their bottom line or net operating income, but they must do so by first: investing in their employees so they are able to find better opportunities in the future. The success of any project must include the welfare of the principals - employees. Involve your users by giving them active roles on the project, make them feel important, train them on the new product, appreciate and reward them then, your project is off to a successful start.There are basically two reasons for a project's success or failure - inside reasons such as lack of ownership and lack of leadership; and outside reasons - these are all the rest, lack of support from an executive, misunderstanding. These two areas are interlaced with each other. The reasons for failure include:
- Lack of senior executive sponsorship.
- Poor stakeholder buy-in from the people most impacted by the change.
- The weak value proposition in terms of business or customer impact.
- Value proposition failed to be translated into meaningful operational deliverables.
- Risk management weak.
- Management and planning deficiencies (too much staring at spreadsheets and reports and too little focusing on concrete deliverables, risk management, and real progress tracking)
- Overload on a project team or overloading the people most impacted by change alongside their day job.
- Too much time elapses between proper reviews of project/ status/ risk.
- Vendors fail to keep promises on delivery.

IT leaders need to raise the profile of IT and its importance in modern business today. On of the things that as a great contributor to IT Project failure is the fact that the real importance of IT to business success is under-estimated. When IT projects are successful they can and do add an incredible amount of benefit to the business and in general, successful projects do not get the same publicity that failed ones do. So it's really up to IT leaders in the profession to raise the profile of IT and its importance in the modern business world. It also takes a step back to determine if you do have the "right people on the bus and in the right seats" and to recognized the need to grow the intellectual capital required to be successful. Knowing how to "really do" risk management, quality assurance, vendor management, etc, not just fill out templates that were originally designed to provide directions and to create thought and brainstorm. Additionally, the ability to be agile and adapt to the changes -- because change happens. Always learn from the past, but look to the future. Whether it's good or bad, respect and learn from the past, but don't dwell on it because the next project is going to be different.

The bigger the program and the longer the time between major delivery points, the greater the risk going up exponentially: One advantage of the Agile techniques over the waterfall is that the much shorter time between concrete deliveries, so customers/ executive sponsors/ stakeholders can more readily determine whether what's been delivered is what they really want. When dealing with large and complex projects you need to make sure that you have everything in place and good and dedicated sponsorship is essential as is governance. Having a project checklist covering each and every task involved with a successful project is a good idea. If you can create a list like this and ensure that you have a tick in every box your chances of project success are greatly increased. Further, often team members are being switched in and out of projects due to changing business priorities. This is not only detrimental to the projects but the team members too, this normally leads to time delays on the project when their replacements have to be brought up to speed. This can mean that the project overruns on time and goes over budget. The most successful projects are often those where the project team has remained constant throughout the life of the project. Insufficient business and stakeholder buy-in often delays progress of IT projects and can often cause failure due to sent of IT pushing change with no benefit for the end user. Poorly defined and controlled scope / requirements are also a common culprit in project downfall.

Failure sometimes is inevitable. But fail fast and failover. Go beyond IT failures, IT develops the professional competencies needed for successful business solution delivery, IT captures organizational knowledge to continuously improve performance, The IT and stakeholder departments have clear objectives, processes and indicators with clear accountability and responsibility to deliver business objectives and implement business strategy steadily.


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