5 Steps to Successful IT Projects
“Hat off for the tremendous piece of work you just completed for EMEA AR info center code refactoring.
THANK YOU for continuously bringing data to the next level. I’m proud to face the upcoming challenges at your side.”
Marco Bellini, Global Account Receivable Transformation Lead, IBM
It is great to receive such appreciations, especially when it comes to the successful delivery of a complex IT project for one of the largest technological vendors worldwide. Indeed, if your team remains truly focused, dedicated and determined to walk the extra mile, success is inevitable. You simply need to follow a few important steps, which outline the successful completion of any IT project.
1) Initiate the IT project properly
In the initiation phase of any IT project companies get to know each other, discuss what needs to be done and most importantly – build trust between each other. Many organizations fail to dedicate enough time to this process and jump into planning immediately. Yet, they fail to realize how these very first steps may turn into the challenges, which will stumble the successful implementation of their IT projects.
An important question any manager should ask himself is: “Can we finish this IT project in a complete and timely manner, by complying with all client requirements?” Think carefully before giving your answer, since this will be the promise you have to keep, no matter what comes along. Here are the key elements of the IT Project Initiation Phase:
Product or Service Description Statement
You have to describe all relative characteristics of the IT project. What is the need of the client and how can you help? This document should not include many details, yet it is the solid base, on which you build upon in the next phases.
The successful completion of any IT project requires genuine commitment and dedication. Even though these are essential, they are not the only factors, which predetermine success. Project Viability checks whether the endeavor you are going to undertake is technically and economically feasible. It tells you whether it is worth the investment.
Project Concept Document
This document defines what needs to be done, why it is to be done, and what business value it provides to both the client and the vendor.
The project Charter formally communicates the existence of a project and embody three critical attributes, which are listed as follows:
- Project Scope.
- Project Authority.
- Critical Success Factors.
2) Perform Comprehensive Business and Technical Analyses and Propose Your IT Solution
The Business Analysis stage is an intangible part of any IT project lifecycle. The goal of the preliminary business analysis is to produce a valuable report, which gives a 360-degree picture of the requirements for building a successful IT solution. This document gives a detailed overview of the scope of work, business issues to be resolved, functional and non-functional requirements, as well as effort estimations and further insights. Carefully consider what period of time the team would need to perform it, any risks that may occur and whether you will be able to successfully deliver the final project.
The scope of any technological project needs to be carefully structured and clearly outlined. Estimations and expected outcomes are to be based on solid facts and past experiences, not on wishes and hopes. Make sure to include stakeholders in the entire process, since they play a key role within the organization. Keeping all team members and stakeholders up-to-date is crucial for the successful delivery of any IT project.
Progress monitoring is an integral part of any IT project. Setting the right milestones draws the chart of how your delivery process will go. This way both your company and the client know what to expect and when. Of course, some obstacles may occur throughout the course of action. That is why there are weekly progress meetings with your team and a representative from the client side (step one in being agile).
3) Plan and Execute Your IT solution
These may seem as the stages of utmost importance for any project, yet if you have carefully followed the steps in the previous phases, the chances of failing here are much lower. This does not mean you should ignore or pay less attention to activities at this stage of the development process. You need to prepare a schedule, estimate all costs and plan the daily/weekly progress meetings. Matching people with the right corresponding project roles is essential for its successful completion. You might face challenges with communication within your team. Some obstacles are likely to occur along the actual development of the IT solution. Here is where transparency, trust and open communication come into play. People need to take full responsibility for their actions and be able to adequately explain what went wrong and why. If you have prepared a risk plan in Phase II, you should be able to fix all issues in a quick and timely manner.
4) Test and Deploy Your Final Solution
Quality matters… a lot! Your IT product or service may be brilliant, yet if you fail to properly test its functionality and features, you risk breaking the promise, made in Phase I. Nobody is happy when buying a broken machine. Avoid getting there with a customer! Be the trusted IT partner, who kept the promises and managed to deliver a business solution of premium quality. Create your own approach by learning from best practices and try to build on experiences.
5) Close the IT project successfully
Many fail to embrace the importance of the final closing stage. Now is the time to shake your partner’s hand, make a recap on lessons learnt and agree on next steps. Hopefully it was not a one-time-deal. Sign all papers, make sure that all protocols, documentation, trainings, guidance, etc. are in place and then continue forward with more business together or at least with having a pleasant memory and a possibility for a well-earned referral.
6) Building Bridges – The ScaleFocus Approach
ScaleFocus has positioned itself as a trusted technology and R&D partner for many partners. Our primary aim is to build sustainable long-term relationships with our clients. We make our promises, based on facts and achievable outcomes. Yet we also dream big and walk many extra miles for partners. In the end, their win is our win as well. Since 2012 we’ve delivered multiple international projects for market-disrupting startups and Fortune 100 enterprises.
Before starting to shape a new IT solution, we devote enough time to:
- Read and understand all documents.
- Double-check if we have past projects with similar scope and elaborate on what we have learned from them.
- Create risk plans. You know – just in case.
- Set milestones. Real and achievable ones.
- Plan weekly progress (Scrum) meetings.
- Communicate everything to the people, involved in the project.
Shareholders and C-level management are kept up-to-date with all relevant details and project progress. Our colleagues are always open to new ideas, suggestions, comments, etc. We highly encourage all colleagues to take the proactive approach and share their knowledge, thoughts and IT experiences. Tips are always valuable for one project or another.
Enough theory. Here is another real-world feedback by a customer:
“Our work with ScaleFocus began as a typical customer-contractor engagement. With time and by far exceeding our expectations, it flourished into a mature partnership, where both parties are solid drivers of a strategic alliance.”
Rudolf Kiseljak, Founder and CEO at AVIQ Systems AG
Turning raw ideas into successful IT projects is not an easy task. That is why, you need to dedicate enough time to analyze, prepare, deploy and test your solutions, before transforming them into completed projects. Long-term relationships and solid partnerships are built this way. In the end, it all breaks down to good communication, clearly defined achievable goals and constant strive for excellence.
There is no right or wrong approach here. Choose what fits best within your organization and clients’ needs. People may give you numerous tips and talks on how you should complete your IT projects successfully, yet the most accurate method differs among organizations and depends on many company-specific variables. Everything you need is there; you just need to find the way to make it all work together. With care, discipline and inspiration.