Anyone in IT project management has seen plenty of success, and failure. In one 2013 survey, half of the companies that had IT projects had experienced a failure in the previous 12 months.
Multiple causes can be pinpointed, including too many projects, inexperienced project managers, inadequate resources, and more. But beyond the specifics, the IT field has become more complex, which results in higher chances of projects derailing across the board. The more you can stay on top of these changes, the better your projects will fare.
Here are 11 industry demands and changes that affect IT success:
- Mobile devices and apps: The smartphones that so many of us carry can do amazing things – all of which affects the perceptions of business users who expect similar wizardry on their own applications. A lot of people don’t understand what goes into an IT project; and now, mobile apps have raised the bar for all IT solutions.
- Customers expect and demand speed: Adriana Karaboutis, CIO of Dell, pinpoints the problem: “The consumer is no longer patient to wait for IT to get through their requirements definition, design definition, technical design, coding and testing.” In other words, there’s an impatient customer base to contend with.
- Security threats: Recent data breaches remind us that it’s dangerous out there; new applications are under greater scrutiny these days. The security team is usually much smaller than the IT developer team, so security can become a bottleneck in the design and build process. Also, executives and review committees are more cautious, fearing any negative press about their application. This attitude can lead to dithering, delay or impractical requirements.
- Cloud: Cloud software, platforms and infrastructure have become mainstream. Cloud applications are often standalone but must be integrated with legacy applications to deliver full value. Mark Myers, director of cloud services at Datalink, a leading VAR, argues that companies need a new job title: “Cloud Architect.” This person can design applications for a cloud-based environment and make strategic decisions between private, public and hybrid clouds, all with the vision to “look at least three years down the road.
- More projects but not more project managers: PMs are increasingly burdened with managing multiple projects simultaneously. Joanna Rothman, an author on project management, says, “As humans, we don’t actually process more than one task at the same time.” This means IT resources are being maxed out.
- Scope creep in the PM’s job: Project managers do more than manage projects—they’re often supervisors too. “The emergence of the Agile development methodology means that project managers must also take on the role of development lead,” says Shravan Goli, president of IT jobs website Dice.com. Which means IT PMs are wearing a lot of hats.
- Too many change orders: Change orders occur as customers translate a fast-changing business environment into software requirements. Mergers, acquisitions and divestitures can trigger organizational changes and changes in requirements – which ties up projects.
- Afraid to say no: As organizations gain a greater focus on applications, the number of IT projects grows. Consequently, an IT department might have trouble saying “no” because they fear being labeled an expensive cost center rather than a contributor to the business.
- Dirty data, big or small: With all the buzz about big data, don’t forget about quality issues in existing data sources. Data cleansing, transformation and integration are costly. Consult with the appropriate experts on what it will take to translate dirty data into valuable insights.
- Too many redundant apps: Overtime, organizations can accumulate applications that need pruning, especially if they’ve grown by acquisition and didn’t cull at the time. Redundancy adds costs in application maintenance, software support and extra integrations.
- Shifting development methodologies. The waterfall vs. agile vs. extreme approaches to software development are more than different styles; they affect deliverables, timelines and ultimately the utility of software. Unless an enterprise standard has been chosen, the PM must choose. Another dimension: A project methodology that worked well for a one million dollar project won’t necessarily work on a $100,000 project.
A skill that will set you apart in the field is being able to make accurate project estimates. It takes practice and knowing a few choice methods–but invaluable! To learn more about this science and art, download our eBook, 6 Best Practices for Accurate Project Estimates.