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The Success Criteria for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Projects

“Change is not a linear event but consists of many interactions of different components and complexities which need to be integrated and lead. In dealing with change within an organisation the fundamental question which arises in most if not all people is “how does this impact on me?” (Alfa & Omega NBS)

ICT Solutions – Damning Evidence from Research

Much time and effort are dedicated by organisation’s leaders to amongst other things; prepare, lobby, and select a solution and vendor, to present the business cases to Executives / Boards, to obtain approval for upgrades or new implementations of ICT solutions. Yet, according to The Standish Group’s Chaos Manifesto 2011:

  • only 37% of all projects succeed to be delivered on time, on budget, with required features and functions;
  • 42% were challenged e.g. late, over budget, and / or with less than the required features and functions and
  • 21% failed e.g. cancelled prior to completion or delivered and never used.

McKinsey states in their 2012 Business Technology Article that large IT efforts cost much more than planned; some can put the whole organization at jeopardy. Their research conducted in collaboration with the University of Oxford suggest that:

  • on average, large IT projects run 45% over budget and 7 % over time,
  • while delivering 56 % less value than predicted,
  • with software projects running the highest risk of cost and schedule overruns.

During our engagement with business, project and change leaders over the past 12 years we have found the following to be the critical success criteria in delivering projects within the desired business case and benefit realization.

Visible and Committed Executive Sponsorship and Ownership is essential to:

  • Endorse and share the change vision (what we want to achieve) with the organizations and related stakeholders.
  • Track the business benefit realization as per the approved business case.
  • Ongoing communication, by organizational best appropriate channel, regarding the progress on the project.

Empower Program and Project Leaders to make decisions within their mandate and to provide a clear decision escalation procedure, should it be required.

Business Ownership of the Business Case and ICT Solution.

Business leadership e.g. HR, Finance, Procurement, Marketing, etc. must:

  • Be actively involved in defining the business requirement.
  • Own and drive the Total Economic Impact (TEI), understand the benefits, the risks, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and flexibility for future options and benefits.
  • Own the business case as well as the applicable software solution.
  • Ensure that the investment in the ICT solution is “sweated” through introducing a continues business improvement solution.
  • Chair the Steering Committee and has active representation in project working committees.
  • Own the Change Enablement work stream.

Information Technology is the Facilitator of the Appropriate Solution.

IT must ensure that:

  • The organizational technology architecture is documented and visible to business leaders;
  • All technology enhancements and / or solutions are evaluated against the technology architecture framework to understand the full knock on;
  • Ongoing Researches is done, and guidance provided for the ICT solution to address the business requirement as presented by business;
  • In conjunction with Procurement and Facilitates, the correct ICT solution selection to business and
  • IT remains the owner of the technical and systems component of the solution.

Business Maturity Level, Product and Process Decomposition and Development of a Dependency Tree.

It must be ensured that:

  • The business’ maturity with regards to the migration and appropriate time table to achieve the desired state and benefit realization, is mapped and clearly understood.
  • The business product e.g. the area which the business case is addressing, is decomposed to a level that the interrelated dependencies of the elements to the lowest level possible, is understood. This guarantees that the data templates are clearly defined to ensure that the correct data at foundational level is captured.
  • Data dependencies allow the building and implementation of the solution to be planned in the correct sequence.
  • The “to be” business processes are mapped to ideally level 5, this allows insight and understanding of the impact the solution will have on the organizational structures, employee roles and how the work will be done going forward. It also provides insight to the level of training required within the organizations.

Programme and Project Management

The programme and project management approach is focused on:

  • A “Chunking or business at the speed of thought” approach e.g. focusing 90 to 120-day deliverables which normally leads to better software quality, improved budgetary control, speedier business functionality is taken and change initiatives are aligned .
  • Gated review or Programme Incremental Planning Sessions allows business and IT to determine their progress, review the project list (“Totem pole”) and agree on priorities. These are held on 90 to 120 days intervals and would normally coincide with the chunking approach indicated above.
  • Teams consisting of Business, Technology, Analysts, Subject Matter Experts, appropriate Organisational and Contracted resources)  are integrated and co-located.
  • Achieving the outcome of the business benefits as approved in the business case.

Change Enablement (Management) is Well Positioned Within the Organization

A change enablement approach must be positioned in such a way that:

  • Leaders are enabled to lead the ensuing change through an integrated Change Enablement plan.
  • Change Enablement commences at the onset of the business case and continues until a defined period after the technical implementation has been finalized.

Sharing of Insights

We would like to share some further insights with you regarding our approach to Change Enablement which would increase the success rate of your project, assisting you to be part of the 37% of projects delivered on time, on budget and with required features and functions.

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