In this competitive market, organizations are urged to rush through their projects delivery in order to get ahead of the game. Simultaneously, they are expected to deliver high value. According to Hackett Group in Atlanta “At companies that aren’t among the top 25 per cent of technology users,
three out of 10 IT projects fail on average.” Consider the following steps before starting any project to avoid the pitfall and guarantee a prosperous outcome.
First, define what you want to achieve. This statement is quite simple. On the other hand lots of clients disregard it. They think if they allow to miss some of the phases they can deliver faster their product or service. Unfortunately, lots of projects starts on the wrong foot and fail by going over budget, or by missing major milestones. As a matter of fact, the client needs to determine from the beginning the purpose, objective, requirement, and scope of their new product or service before involving everybody.
Second, engage the right people to your projects. In complex challenging matrix organizations, team members usually don’t communicate among each other. This is where the project manager comes in handy. She or he will involve the appropriate team members to ensure the communication bridge is set and functional.
Third, identify the risks early that might encounter the project and prepare a back up plan. Stakeholders should identify upfront the threats in a sequential order from the highest probability to the lowest one and match their mitigations accordingly. It is imperative to be ready all the time.
Fourth, set up a steering committee. It is a group of very senior executives representing the cross-functional organizations. They meet on a regular basis to discuss the high level pieces of the project or any high level critical issues that need their attention. In most cases the steering committee plays a vital role in removing roadblocks and preventing projects from failing.
Fifth, establish an escalation process. It is the most effective technique for solving complex issues in a timely manner. Sometimes, it can be very tricky when they are not handled properly. I have seen it several times damaging good relationships among teams. The best way is to identify and document the responsible person from each party to handle escalations. In addition, this person will have a restricted allocated time to deal with them before they are passed over to a higher level. The document should be signed off by the appropriate parties and communicated to all members.
Sixth, set up a change management team and procedure. I have seen it so many times, this kind of set up can dramatically increase your ROI and drastically cut down your wasted unproductive efforts. Its functionality is to make sure there are no out of order changes in terms of scope, schedule, and budget. If the change is indeed needed then a request form will be issued to identify the variance. Then the change management team will analyze the request, assess the impact, and decide if it is a go or no go.
Seventh, capture the scope, plan, schedule, assumptions, risks, and all the details needed for the project into a consolidated document. Then obtain an approval from the teams involved and the client through a signoff process. This phase is the most critical one to ensure the success of the project. This document should be communicated to all parties making sure everybody is on the same page. Some clients avoid this step completely and at the end they wonder why their project is not going anywhere and why they are over budget.
Finally, don’t be afraid to support your team with positive feedback. To get better results from them, honour their efforts and celebrate their successes. You will see surprising results in terms of productivity.
In brief, define what you want to achieve, engage the right people, mitigate the risks, set up a steering committee, establish an escalation process, set up a change management team, capture all the details of your project in a document with appropriate signoffs, and support your team with positive attitude will guarantee you a top notch quality service or product delivery.
Gilbert Khoury is with Platinum Consulting of Toronto.