In a world where operations and IT executives are asked every day to do even more for less, IT application portfolio decisions can become complex and “not-so-apparent”. Should we consolidate? Should we replace? Should we remediate? What is the cost of doing nothing for another year? These are questions that must be answered by executives every day as they grow a successful business.
Then, knowing what to do is just the beginning. In what order should we execute the projects? How should we execute this project? Can we do it internally? Do we need consultants – if so, how many and to perform what services? What should the program governance model look like? And more.
Once a project is approved and kicked off, it’s easy to waste time and money. Common culprits in order of importance (or wastefulness) are:
1. Unaligned skills of the operations and IT executives 2. Inadequately-engaged operations and IT executives 3. Inappropriately-experienced consultants 4. Incomplete planning - including fuzzy goals and incomplete resource marshalling 5. Divergent consultant goals 6. Lack of a clear command and control structure - lack of overall accountability and ownership 7. Inadequate project management processes and skills 8. Internal politics 9. Incomplete delivery of resources from operations and IT management 10. Passive/aggressive team member participation
If all of the above dynamics are in play concurrently – and it does happen – the final cost in terms of time and money can be 2-3 times higher than it should be. And that doesn't include things like business disruptions, damaged career paths, loss of valuable employees, and negatively impacted customer satisfaction levels. On the other hand, when all of the above (and a couple of dozen other factors) are addressed correctly; projects are successful, companies achieve their goals, organizational and business disruptions are minimized . . . and heroes are born!
Many organizations will hire a well-regarded consulting organization to plan, organize and manage the many activities required for a successful project outcome. As a former Accenture executive, I can say with confidence that this approach can be very successful. And after 30 years of performing consulting work and working with other consulting organizations, I can say that the consultants don’t always bring a project home as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Other organizations will rely on internal expertise for planning and managing the project – in some cases hiring specifically for the requisite system installation roles. This approach is less expensive and can be an excellent solution for the company; that is, the project is completed at a significantly lower cost, there is greater internal ownership, and there is no requirement for knowledge transfer from a third party during and after the project. If the right skills and expertise exist internally, it’s the best way to go. However, the right skills must be available. Successfully operating and maintaining information systems, which is what internal IT organizations do most of the time, is very different from installing systems. It’s like the difference between planning and managing the construction of a new office building, and the ensuing, ongoing maintenance of the building – each activity requires different skills and expertise.
On large projects where the ongoing costs or “burn rate” can amount to millions of dollars a month, speed and efficiency is critical. Literally, time is money. A three-month delay can destroy the budget, and a six-month delay can cause heads to roll.
If you think your organization may be encountering some of the above issues and may be at risk for significant cost overruns, I can probably help. Please click on my service offerings provided in the above left column and see if there is a match between my services and your needs.
I am a sole practitioner – so you’ll always know who will show up and provide the services – me. I want to help the executive be successful. I don’t want to do the executive’s job for him or her, or do the consultant’s job for him or her for that matter. I help busy senior executives execute better on their IT-related challenges.
Please contact me if you would like to talk further about your situation and how I may be able to improve your odds of success.