Architecting Today’s Technology Projects For Success
With the proliferation of technological solutions and applications, the mobility of solutions, and the user demand for immediacy of information, many executives are finding that their organizations are now struggling to keep up with the organizational IT environment.
By Oculus Consulting Group LLC
Today’s organizations face the same challenge that many organizations faced nearly 20 years ago. Technological advantages have progressed to the point where there are a plethora of application solutions that exist for consideration in resolving each obstacle the organization is currently encountering. As organizations make substantial investments in mobile and internet technologies, web-based solutions, hosted and open source technology alternatives, organization leaders are encountering some of the same problems that existed during the run-up to Y2K.
If you are struggling with technology projects within your organization, you are not alone. As an executive within your organization, you should ask yourself if the technology projects within your organization are exhibiting any of these characteristics:
- Competing priorities for critical technology resources
- Implementation and “go-live” schedules that are slipping or being pushed due to a lack of organizational or technological readiness
- Budget overruns that are considerable – exceeding the original project proposal by a factor of 2, 3, or 4 times
- Implementations that seemed to fall flat or require considerable manual work-around(s) because critical functionality is not ready
- Knowledge experts that have become disenchanted with the pace of change, or worse – left the organization for greener pastures and experience recognition
“It is not new for organizations to be aggressively considering new technology, especially in today’s internet-enabled operating environment.”
Today’s Technology Environment
In today’s highly technologically based organizational infrastructures, these experiences are much more of the norm than they are the exception. With the proliferation of technological solutions and applications, the mobility of solutions, and the user demand for immediacy of information, many executives are finding that their organizations are now struggling to keep up with the organizational IT environment. The characteristics mentioned above seem to be a more accurate description of the organization than many executives are willing to admit. The challenge is what to do, and how did this happen?
The Need For A Technology Development Process
Every year it seems that thousands of new software development projects are undertaken for a variety of reasons. Nearly every executive retreat includes a discussion topic on the latest and greatest technological solution missing from the enterprise suite of applications deployed at the organization. It is not new for organizations to be aggressively considering new technology, especially in today’s internet-enabled operating environment. The past 20 years have brought a significant number of resources and applications into the organization. It is not as if the software application industry is new, or as if the organization has never been through a software development, software integration, or system implementation project recently. On the contrary, it may seem like there is a multitude of projects currently in work with more on deck, waiting in the wings. It is not as if there is a shortage of technology knowledge workers with skills to work on these projects, in fact, on the contrary, educational institutions are producing skilled resources in shorter completion cycles. Consider that entities like DevMountain can produce highly skilled graduates in a variety of internet and software quality assurance applications in just 13 weeks, versus the 2+ years required to complete the training programs in most community and technical colleges. And DevMountain’s graduates are entering organizations with a higher degree of knowledge retention and prowess. And, it is not as if there is a lack of project management tracking tools or a lack of software development tools available to the organization. So what gives? Why are organizations experiencing the characteristics mentioned above, and why are organization executives challenged with continued problems with their organization’s technology projects?
Technology Projects Are About People
In short, success or failure of your organization’s technology projects is a people thing – and not a problem of inadequate tools, technology options, or lack of understanding of using technology, or any other “thing”. So before you click away from this blog post because you anticipate we’re going to tell you it is an executive deficiency “thing”, we’re not going to tell you that. And, it’s not your fault. Ask anyone in your organization, industry, or mentor circles, what their experience has been in identifying why technology projects have gone down the drain, and you’ll probably hear the term “people” somewhere in their response. Most executives responsible for these projects simply are not listening, oh you may be hearing them, but is your organization truly listening. The knowledge of why technology projects typically get into trouble is not a secret. At Oculus Consulting Group LLC, our expertise and experience in establishing then managing successful technology projects in organizations of all shapes, sizes, and industries is well documented.
Successful technology projects are led by people, and not by the latest or greatest technology. Although the plethora of technological options available to today’s organizations can be assistive, it is the leadership of the project that ultimately will make all the difference in the project’s success. Organizations that are successfully winning in this realm of fast-paced, ever-changing, technologically based solutions world of competition are doing so because they have been persistently executing successful technology leadership training within their organizations. These organizations are not succeeding because they have made the considerable investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) or can boast of years of consistent “uptime”, but because they have trained their technology project managers how to be winners. They are not winning because they have armies of certified technology project managers ready to be deployed at the first sign of trouble. On the contrary, they have trained their project managers to recognize technology project problems before the system goes down or the resources bailout. They have trained these resources on how to fix the problems and manage the people to minimize project issues and solve these problems efficiently and effectively. They have trained their technology project managers when to scrap the project and when to call the current project “done”.
Identifying Project Management Knowledge
In today’s certification centric world where organizations have placed an emphasis on resources with certifications, organizations have placed considerable credibility on the credential of the resources instead of their actual ability to accomplish the project. Organizations have choices, and so do the individuals employed within them. If the organization is experiencing consistent challenges with technology projects, then a basic question needs to be asked: “why isn’t this organization learning from its past technology project experiences”? As organizational experts leading today’s technology-based organizations, your organization will need to be continuously searching for knowledge experiences and ways to advance these skill resources. This same premise holds true for the organization’s technology-oriented projects.
Organizations have placed an emphasis on project management knowledge usually acquired through the local educational classroom, certificate accomplishment, or technology management position. Some technology managers, project leaders, and project members are doomed to repeat the performance of the past on future projects. Why, because they cannot control what they do not understand. Most of the problems within the technology projects in the organization are not an immediate train wreck occurrence. They are acquired slowly and methodically. Projects that are in trouble can actually appear to be under control or worse, ahead of schedule at any given time. The ability of your technology project managers to recognize and diagnose these problems is essential. This may require a fresh set of project management eyes looking at the project from a variety of stakeholder positions. At Oculus Consulting Group LLC, we can lead organizations through a project architecture assessment that looks broadly at the organization’s vision for technology use and the measurable reality of structuring the project for success. Our workshops and assessments could be the “fresh set of eyes” that your organization needs to get your technology projects back on track and performing properly.
Once the problem is identified, the organization must understand what will be required to recover from it, and how to learn from it so that the lessons are repeatable on future projects. So at the core of any successful project architecture for technology projects, it is a fundamental understanding of how the organization manages their projects, who manages the projects, and how the knowledge and expertise gained through this process can be translated into future technology projects. That process is a people process. It means making tough decisions and breaking down organizational barriers inherent in the organization’s information technology departments. It means holding resources accountable for failures, and success. It means empowering resources to make decisions. And it means developing a defined, repeatable, and predictive technology development / enhancement / implementation process. Those activities are people activities.
But … We’ve Done Project Management Before
Your technology development / enhancement / implementation process must be made up of a comprehensive set of activities from which your project teams can select the appropriate set of activities. It must be examined routinely for potential improvements. If you are engaging in a major system upgrade, the process used for the development and implementation of the technology 10 or 12 years ago is probably not relevant for today’s hyper-speed technology environment. Your technology project cannot afford to require users to perform tasks that are not useful to the overall project. Your project must have a simple and expedient method to allow users and project team members to suggest improvements and to deviate from design when required. All of these activities are technology project management activities and the combination of any of them can create havoc for your organization if not managed properly. No level of expert prowess with project management technologies will circumvent the need for the right people, in the right positions, to manage the project effectively and efficiently.
By defining and describing the technology development / enhancement / implementation process, and then being selective in how project management resources are selected and allocated, organization have achieved success in addressing risk factors as part of any technology implementation project. If the risk factors are ignored, the degree of project success will be reduced, and the project could ultimately be detrimental to the entire organization.
At Oculus Consulting Group LLC, we understand that these key principles can mean the difference between successful responses to innovative technologies, dynamic technology application changes, and the need for substantial organization transformation. Our demonstrated achievements in assisting our clients in transforming their vision for technology project management effectiveness into a measurable reality of enhanced organization performance can assist your organization as you proceed with similar efforts.
To learn how you can secure our services and assistance, please contact us.
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