With businesses desperate to innovate and get ahead of their competition they’re turning to their IT teams to drive digital transformation projects.

So, when these projects fail, the business impact can be huge.

Jumar’s team is acutely aware of what these project pitfalls can entail – and a number of them are detailed below.

 

Right problem, wrong solution

Pressure often forces businesses to rush the requirements stage in a project.

It’s important to dig deep to truly understand the business needs and even when the problem is seemingly obvious, you should never jump to conclusions with the solution.

woman using ipad outside

A widely reported example is Avon, famous for its door-to-door direct sales approach, the business decided that it needed to digitise its approach to improve efficiency amongst the sales teams. Providing its representatives with an application to order stock for their customers instantly seemed like a no-brainer, but with spiralling costs and unimpressed sales agents leaving the business, Avon was forced to scrap the project.

“By not immediately going for the obvious route in a project you encourage innovation to find better solutions. Approach a project from each stakeholder’s point of view, be open-minded with your solution and consider multiple options.”

 

ADRIAN SUTHERLAND, Cto, JUMAR TECHNOLOGY

In the planning stages, you should look at the business impact of your considerations. Does the benefit outweigh the cost? How much training will be required? Will the customer benefit?

 

Communication failure

There is often the perception that people in IT speak a completely different language from their peers in other functions, and it’s this view that risks communication breakdown in projects.

woman explaining project on board

The IT team is responsible for communicating the business impact of any technology-based decisions in the project. For that, first of all, they need to understand the business impact of any technology-based decisions. A skill that is increasing in demand in the IT industry.

“Tailor your message to the audience. Tell them what they need to know and keep it simple. Not because they won’t understand the technical jargon, people are becoming more and more tech-literate, but because simple messaging is easier to digest for anyone.”

 

Glyn Oldfield, Business Analyst Practice Lead, Jumar Technology

Communication goes two ways. When gathering business requirements, Jumar’s Business Analysis team use active listening techniques.

Effectively, it’s all about encouraging the speaker to give as much information as possible using positive signals – even simple things like smiling and nodding. It helps to bridge communications gaps as we repeat what has been said back to the speaker, clarifying their points and also encouraging them to expand so we can understand the bigger picture.

 

Inflexible practises

Mid-project changes can be frustrating and distracting, but they can also save a project.

“Between the time we initially identify a requirement and the time of first delivery, technology has progressed so quickly that portions of the initial requirement have been overtaken by new and better systems”

 

Daniel Hébert, Director Project Management Support Organization, Department of National
Defence, Government of Canada

Hébert’s situation is a common one.

His project would probably never be completed if he brought in every piece of updated technology. But what if a newly available solution is the ideal alternative? The one he wished existed whilst he was planning the project?

It’s a case of evaluating the benefits of any changes to the project against the implications to the project.

An agile approach helps to embrace change even late in the project phase. Allowing businesses to implement new technologies or changing requirements quickly without the huge amount of documentation that would come with a typical waterfall process.

“We promote the adoption of Agile practices in everything we do, which enables us to be both responsive and decisive when working with a client.

In today’s world, our client’s business needs change rapidly and Jumar is structured to move in step with these changes.”

 

Glyn Oldfield, Business Analyst Practice Lead, Jumar Technology

 

Missing expertise internally

Trying to launch a project without the required skills and experience can be risky business.

If the Canadian government had invested in their IT team, maybe they wouldn’t have launched an ‘incomprehensible failure’ of a project that cost 275% of the original budget, received so many complaints that the Canadian Prime Minister was forced to comment, and was estimated to cost one billion Canadian dollars to fix.

Document the skills needed within a project then define and assign roles to everyone involved. Identified a gap? There are more options than you think.

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