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Tips to stay in the 20% group!

Tips to stay in the 20% group!

1/29/2019 8:18:21 AM

It has been noted by Gartner that big IT projects specifically "Data Projects", have as high as an 80% failure rate. I have been involved in many big projects and have accumulated my own list of tips to stay in the 20% group.

  1. Get solid, real, requirements. I mean it. Solid, real, requirements. From the actual users / consumers. Do not make up your own requirements that you think they will want.
  2. Build, Test, and Deliver in small increments. This will keep the users happy and leave them wanting more and more. Don't try to boil the ocean. Under-promise and Over-deliver. Trying to do too much at once is overbearing and will lead to many problems.
  3. Build a detailed project plan for each delivery. A very detailed project plan. Hash out every gruesome detailed task that has to be completed and estimate how long each will take to accomplish. Actively manage and update the project plan that was created. Check off tasks as they are being worked and when completed. This allows you to get a look at the plan at any point and see how you are doing and adjust as necessary. Also, report back to the users and consumers on a frequent basis. Only EVER even mention a "completion date" once this detailed project plan is completed and all involved parties agree on the timelines. Once a completion date is communicated, it is very critical to keep that date.
  4. Be aware of scope creep. This directly is related to number 1. In my experience, in almost every occurrence of new scope being found can be tied back to detailed requirements not being vetted appropriately. Complete number 1 in a very detailed manor and you will not have very much scope creep.
  5. In coordination with the business, clearly define what "success" looks like and how you will measure success when your deliverable is met. (I.e. we should be able to search all customer orders for various attributes and return the data in a friendly formatted fashion.)
  6. Keep the users involved. Make them feel like they “own” the deliverable that you are working on. If they buy into the process and feel like they have a say, they will in turn feel invested and actively try to assist you to ensure the deliverable is met.
  7. Be respectful of the user’s time. Users of IT deliverables have their “day jobs”. This IT deliverable is often something that will help them or make their job easier, but in the mean time, they still have a job that has to be completed. Plan and coordinate their time appropriately in the project plan and don’t expect more.
  8. Test, Test, Test! Define a solid test strategy. Have a brain storming session with the whole team to determine things that should be tested. Write specific test cases for each scenario. Testing data-related projects is even more challenging because often the logic solely relies on the content of the data. This means that you can only test for scenarios in which you have data to satisfy. I could write a whole section on testing… maybe I will in the future. For this purpose, just remember to never underestimate the different testing that needs to be completed.

If you have an IT project starting soon in your small business, be aware of the tips above. If you would like assistance, please let us help!

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