How to keep IT projects on track during times of disruption
Innovative IT is critical for manufacturers. From migrating to the cloud and integrating IoT. To streamlining with next-generation automation and building secure, resilient remote working infrastructure. Embracing technology is business-critical. However, many manufacturers have seen their IT implementations slowed down, thrown into disarray or cancelled indefinitely.
We want to help you get your digital transformation projects back on track. Although a challenge, it is possible to push forward successful, cost-effective technology projects. Even when teams are working remotely and day-to-day operations are high pressure. This is our five-point guide to keep IT projects on track.
Be open and honest about skills.
We’re all familiar with the saying, “trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole”. For many tasks, it is perfectly fair to select teams that can evolve. However, you can’t be that liberal with IT project management. Complex obstacles and intricate technology call for a task force immersed in IT project management – with years of experience to boot.
It is OK if you don’t have the skillset to complete a job alone. After all, you staff your organisation for everyday success, not periodic and niche projects. For example, a business invests in an ERP or CRM approximately every 8 to 10 years, so it makes sense that you’ll have insufficient internal resource to handle implementation. The important thing is recognising when that is the case and being strategic about who you add to the project team.
Start by honestly and respectfully understanding the strengths and weaknesses of key actors. Analyse gaps in resource and expertise and establish whether a single third party can complete the picture, or a small outsourced, integrated team will do the trick. A word of caution, though; a too-large project team can dilute effectiveness, so be specific and loyal to your objectives when selecting.
Seek out a niche consultant.
IT systems implementations – from ERP to IoT technologies or cloud migrations – are complicated, particular beasts. Get it wrong, and a project intended to streamline operations and reinvigorate your bottom line will soon be haemorrhaging money itself. The best way to avoid expensive slowdowns and rollbacks is to work with a niche consultant. Look for a third party that:
- Has several years, or even decades, of experience
- Has a detailed portfolio of complex projects, even better if there are case studies
- Is qualified to ISO, ITAR, ITIL and Prince 2 standards
- Is an IT wizard with a complete understanding of technical project facets
- And is a straight-talking, down-to-earth communicator who unites but leaves no room for ambiguity
From our experience, take special note of this final point. Project recovery effectiveness calls for a consultant who is exceptionally focused – unwilling to leave any stone unturned and never accepting no for an answer. They will always keep it simple and always offer a solution. It’s a fundamental way to keep IT projects on track, regardless of external factors.
Have a contingency for each milestone.
Did you know that 1 in 3 IT implementations run into trouble throughout a project? From disjointed project management to sluggish vendors or clunky existing infrastructure. There are countless reasons why we miss milestones. Being realistic about this from day one means your project is more likely to stay on track.
Adopting a preventative mindset is key to maintaining momentum while rejecting compromise to your project objectives. For example, it is common for delays to occur at handoff points, which leads to missing a bigger deadline. Establishing a “critical path” for each handoff point makes a brilliant contingency. Here, you note tasks that must happen in a particular order and provide two alternative pathways. Ensure that contingency plans have clear, achievable timelines to keep those goals on track!
Define red flags, document obstacles.
Defining project red flags goes hand in hand with your milestone contingency plans and is fundamental to an IT project control cycle. Knowing red flags allows you to resolve problems before they spiral and determine when you pull the trigger on changing course. An expert consultant with niche experience can help decide red flags. They will also work with your team to build them into a project control cycle.
Sometimes the red flag is glaringly obvious. But, in many cases, disruption is more nuanced and gradually bubbles to the surface. The best project management and recovery consultants will quickly realise this from a combination of rigorous process and intuition. Every business is different. Every implementation is unique. If yours is going off track, note down obstacles as they emerge to aid future proactivity and keep the project team on their toes. Making red flag reviews routine also builds and maintains commitment, improves communication and ensures quality information.
Be well-versed in vendor management.
Knowing vendors well marks the difference between instant action and agonisingly slow progress. Asides from being frustrating, slow vendors can cause project-critical bottlenecks. But with the right person upfront, collaborating with third parties will be a pleasure. It is likely IT vendor management is new to you. So, enlist the support of an experienced third party who call this their bread and butter. Your consultant will be adept at communicating at vendor level while representing the best interests of your company. We are well-versed in managing vendors, third parties and internal staff as part of complex technology projects.
Have your IT projects been thrown off course or postponed altogether? Have pandemic conditions revealed discord between IT software, process and business strategy? Speak to a highly qualified Sentis project management and recovery specialist.
Our highly qualified experts are available to fill skills gaps in managing demanding IT projects. We know how to get them back on track to successful completion while maintaining momentum and efficiency during times of disruption. To book a free consultation, call 0345 862 2930 or visit www.sentisms.com/contact.