By ensuring you select the correct IT partner for your next business project could be the difference between success and failure.
We have all heard and read the horror stories on the news and in the press regarding failed and massively over budget IT implementations.
So why are some projects successful and others a complete flop?
Well the success to any project, not just IT, is set at the start with the partner selection process and then the system discovery and design process. These two processes that should always be completed at the start of any major business change should be the most detailed and invested part of the project. Completing this phase correctly will in the long-run ensure the correct solution is designed and delivered to the customer, in budget.
The steps to a successful it solution are so simple. But why are so many companies still failing?
The two main reasons are down to cost cutting at the very start of the project and staff buy-in/ownership. As all business implementations are driven by costs, the easiest way to show the project is viable to proceed, is by choosing either a cheaper vendor. Who may not have all the expertise needed to deliver the final solution, or by skipping vital processes at the start of the project to remove cost. Removing days of consultancy at the start of the project, which seem to be a nice to have, can help get proposals in the preferred budget. However, this sadly sows the seed of failure and/or spiralling costs at the end.
So why is the partner selection and discovery/design phase so critical?
Firstly, by choosing the correct IT partner that shows a wide knowledge of the required technology. With a willingness to spend time listening to your full requirements, and asking questions about all your IT processes, demonstrates that they are considering all of your options and possible solutions. By selecting a vendor that only focusses on the initial request for a quick sale will only deliver a solution for that purpose. They will not look at any added value for the business, or bring options and added benefits to the table. However, the correct partner will always cost more, as they are bringing experience and knowledge with them. This will eventually save you money and time by the end of the project.
Secondly, I have seen so many projects fail due to the initial discovery and design phase not being committed to by the client. IT systems are within reason fairly generic, however the way people and businesses implement and use them are very custom. By spending the time discovering your current systems and processes will help identify technology that can be re-used, highlight the failings of the current solution and identify process improvements and cost savings. As many staff as possible should be allowed to give their input for the scoping exercise, and most importantly should be allocated dedicated time to ensure they commit to the process. Trying to get anybody to think about their job and how the process works whilst at their desk answering calls and emails will always result in missed information and failure. Trying to bypass this process will end with a string of late requirements once the system is at the UAT phase or worst gone live. This is where most of the overspend goes on projects that fail to meet any kind of budget.
So to conclude how do we ensure our next IT project is a success?
1. Clearly, identify what the business requirements are at a high-level and why you are looking at a new solution to start with.
2. Identify the key staff that will help explain the current processes, the new requirements and the expected deliverables.
3. Choose the correct supplier for delivering the solution, if their first questions are what’s your budget and timescale? They are most likely not the correct vendor for your business and critical IT solution.
4. Ensure your chosen supplier has a breadth of knowledge to cover the majority of the systems you are looking to upgrade. A specialist in one subject is not always best placed to analyse a complete end-to-end solution.
5. Make it clear to all stakeholders that around 40% of the consultancy fee may be spent upfront before any implementation is started. This will actually save you money and time in the long run. It could more importantly, identify that your chosen partner is not up to the next phase of the project.
6. Ask for reference sites, although this can be slightly biased towards your vendor, most companies are happy to share their experiences with you.
7. Ensure you have a clear design that everyone signs off on. Having this at the start of your project will eliminate all the misunderstandings and confusion that can come from acronyms and tech phrases. A clear design like the one below allows for easy understanding of the most complex systems.