Moments of truth in IT programme management (2/3)

By Jim Patience

Date 19 January 2010 Tags

It’s the moment of celebration for the IT team, successful delivery of their latest project.

They’ve built a system (or configured a package) and put in place a brand new architecture. They’ve tested it all to destruction from both a functional and operational perspective.

It goes live in production with no technical issues.

But as with so many celebrations there is a morning after – the business has a headache.

Technical success – business failure

The business is confused. They’re unclear about what to do. They’re not sure about this new system? It doesn’t seem to fit with the way they do things and they don’t know who to ask about it – there doesn’t seem to be an appropriate support mechanism in place.

The business hasn’t been properly prepared for a new system and a new way of working, and they’re understandably concerned. “We can’t do our jobs properly anymore and the business is now failing to deliver to its stakeholders.”

Too much time was spent by the project team ensuring that the technical solution was perfect. The implementation was seen as the end. For the business, however, the implementation is only the beginning.

With a scenario like this, the likely outcome is that the benefits case just will not be delivered. The business can no longer operate effectively. Precious finances have been wasted and will continue to be lost.

Two major considerations

In a programme with a large IT component the programme manager has two major responsibilities: preparing the IT solution for the business and preparing the business for the IT solution. The latter is rarely addressed properly.

Some things to think about in preparing the business

First and most importantly, the work has to be led by credible business managers. The business implementation team will need quality business architects and organisational change specialists.

The new business operating model should be designed and prototyped so it’s clear how the new technology fits and everything works. The business users need to be organised and trained for the new business operating model.

When it comes to roll-out, it’s advisable to use a standard and repeatable implementation approach. Communications must be frequent and consistent between the project team and the business users.

The outcome

Taking this two-pronged approach of preparing the IT solution for the business, and preparing the business for the IT solution, quite simply will give you a better chance of delivering the benefits case.

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