Apptricity's Tim Garcia Highlights Three Things to Avoid When Leading an IT Project
Apptricity's CEO lists three simple ways companies can mistakenly derail an important IT project.
June 27, 2013 - Dallas, TX - Tim Garcia, founder and CEO of Apptricity, a provider of the Jetstream suite of supply chain, e-procurement and financial productivity solutions, shared his thoughts recently on three common mistakes that can doom an IT project. Lack of communication, incorrect development processes and unclear decision-making protocols are three ingredients in a recipe for disaster in the IT world. Here’s a look at Garcia’s advice for avoiding these pitfalls when leading a program or initiative for your company or client:
- Lack of clear communication and setting expectations. This is a critical factor in successfully delivering large projects. Misunderstandings and lack of communication are one of the most common reasons that projects go astray. “Before we start any projects, I make sure everyone on both the customer side and our internal project team have a clear, documented understanding of two primary things: 1) What we are going to do, and 2) How do we know when we are done?” said Garcia. “Without documented agreement on the answers to these two questions the project is in danger from the start."
Projects have to start with a clear definition of requirements from the users and stakeholders. But successful projects need more than requirements and a project plan. In addition to understanding what the users need, it is also important to understand why the requirement is needed. Understanding the overall business objectives allows project teams to properly prioritize their efforts and propose innovative solutions that often exceed the user's original expectations.
New and complex projects can be difficult to conceptualize. It's even more difficult to ensure that everyone’s conceptualization or understanding is consistent. Project artifacts such as use cases, mockups, prototypes and mapping documents are helpful because they supplement communication and ensure consistent expectations.
- The wrong development process. "Waterfall approaches to project delivery introduce risk and often lead to disappointing results,” Garcia says. “An iterative, agile approach to projects helps ensure user involvement and identifies disconnects early in the process.” Waterfall is a term used to describe projects in which the results are not presented to the users and stakeholders until later in the project, often leaving the client saying, "This isn’t doing what I thought it would."
Users often don't know what they want until they can actually see, touch and work with it. Iterative projects deliver results in short, quick phases, with the most critical and complex components delivered first.
Formalized user acceptance testing of each phase ensures that the project stays on track and allows for course corrections while there is still time to react. Early and continuous involvement also allows users and stakeholders to identify opportunities for incremental improvements that provide significant business value but are beyond what they had originally envisioned. Agreed upon change management processes turn “scope creep” into sound business decisions for delivering solutions that exceed expectations.
- No defined decision-making process. While user involvement and feedback are critical, successful projects also need a clear and defined decision-making process. Project teams should embrace change, but changing decisions or actions should require authoritative approval, agreement and documentation. Understanding the process and chain of command keeps everyone working from the same playbook.
Whether you're implementing new supply chain management software, updating your e-procurement processes or shifting your website to a new CMS, it's important to avoid these common mistakes in order to keep your IT project on track.
Apptricity provides innovative software applications that help companies of all sizes run better and maximize their resources. Our applications deliver critical real-time intelligence to your mobile device, keeping you connected to the office, the warehouse, and the final destination. Jetstream, our revolutionary platform, enhances legacy ERP applications and extends the value of IT investments to sharpen your competitive edge. Jetstream solutions unify objectives for Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and the military with accelerated business processes and command visibility. Our solutions evolve to help your enterprise operate more profitably and grow.