Don’t Fail to Plan in 2014
(Play)Joyce is a Planner with a capital “P.” Yes, (Plan)Joyce plans, and I simply execute my assigned tasks in the project plan. You know the old saying, “When the Planner is happy, everybody’s happy.” Planning’s not really my thing, though. I sit comfortably in the “fly by the seat of one’s pants” section, usually flailing out on the wing. My flying style works fine most of the time, but I’m glad to have a strong planner keeping me level. Based on what I’ve been seeing in the news recently, there’s a real need for better planning in IT Projectland:
- Obamacare’s Rollout Is a Disaster That Didn’t Have to Happen
- Mass. IT project is latest black eye for Deloitte
- PR finger pointing: IBM and Bridgestone wrangle over failed ERP
- Inside Avon’s Failed Order-Management Project
Now I’m no Obamacare basher, and clearly Deloitte and IBM are highly successful organizations, but reading these stories revealed a couple key themes. First, in the public sector, limiting contract awards to vendors “on your list,” or awarding a contract to the lowest bidder can cause problems, among them partnering with a firm lacking the right skills, or one that cannot possibly get the project done effectively for the price quoted. Of course, this phenomenon is not limited to government contracts. These days, most vendor proposals for software services are shredded like mozzarella by procurement departments, so project resources are strained from the start. The second, and resulting theme is poor requirements definition. In my opinion, this is where most IT projects go awry, and it’s because the planning work at the front-end of the project is inadequate due to lack of skills (vendor, partner or customer), and/or lack of resources (contracted man hours). If the system configuration or coding then proceeds, the problems don’t surface until testing, or even worse, at go-live.
It’s really not that complicated, but it does take time, and requirements definition is um, required whether writing custom code, implementing on-premise software, or Software as a Service (SaaS). When you’re automating complex enterprise rules and processes, rigorous up-front planning is the key to success.