Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Three ways CIOs ensure failure of large IT projects
If we define "failure" using the definition of number of projects that are late, over budget or lack sufficient quality, then I have observed more of my fair share. In a previous life, I was an Enterprise Architect for The Hartford (A Fortune 100 Insurance Carrier) where we frequently worked with Accenture, IBM and Cognizant. During my tenure, I not only observed failure, but managed to observe patterns that makes failure a CIO repeatable best practice...
Consulting Firms will let their clients drive the car into the ditch: Consulting firms are sometimes too willing to accept client changes in scope, targets, priorities, etc during a project thought it was not the best way or even a safe way. Consulting firms sometimes do this out of fear since much of the business generated is done based on relationships. Change orders tend to also bring with it, more revenue so the coin-operated partner is increasingly less likely to not at least consider.
Using the analogy of the car, instead of following the map and planning the route, we instead resort to sudden jerks at the steering wheel. No wonder clients run off the road.
- The wrong person is put into the drivers seat: Here is another area where a CIO will fall victim to melodic words of a partner who assigns someone who possesses charisma and has the gift of gab but otherwise is lacking in other necessary skills. When we tend to value personality traits such as being an extrovert over abilities required to deliver such as strong technical leadership, things have a way of going wrong very fast.
Choice in personnel should not be made on the fit of the consultant to CIO or even business customer for that matter, but should instead focus on the overall fit with the team. Think Democracy here.
- Driving without gas in the tank: No matter how thorough the current state assessment is, there is always an important detail or two that is left out. Sometimes, there are questions that consultants would like to ask but are barred in exploring them for a plethora of reasons. At other times, a CIO may be either unaware or not completely forthcoming about cashflow, profitability, management capability, business outlook or other issues.
Sometimes this results in the pursuit of goals that are more about declaring victory early rather than delivering value to the business. Over time, when you have a model that is based on allowing at least two varying perspectives, interesting things are guaranteed to happen.