ADEPT Compass card failure

To tap or not to tap? Translink and the Compass Card system was recently the subject of a referendum. Plagued with issues right from the start, the system is only beginning to get rolled out with very limited capabilities.

As I approach the end of my second decade in the technology industry, I find it hard to believe that the acceptance of IT Project failures to be such an acceptable outcome for so many organizations.

There are no carved-in-stone reasons for IT projects to fail and there are solid pre-planning methods available to make sure that most of those reasons don’t occur. Yet the average IT project fails to meet all expectations at least 40% of the time, and about half of the time the benefits of the project are not achieved.

Every year, stats and reporting groups such as Gartner, and industry experts share the annual trend that project management in the IT Industry is continuing to have projects fail at a staggering rate. If you look at a 2012 article from McKinsey-Oxford on reference-class for forecasting for IT projects the average IT project runs over budget 45% of the time, and 56% of the time the benefits of the project are not achieved. The same report shares that 17% of IT projects can go so poorly that they threaten the livelihood of the company that engaged in the project.

Fast forward to 2015 news and you get articles outlining such massive failures that there are scheduled protests by the employees to show their discontent, or the April 2015 article in the Globe and Mail reporting that the BC Government’s IT project to provide the Health Care industry with a “One Person, One Record” solution has derailed with over 85% of the project remaining after 2 years and $72 million dollars spent. This article was recently expanded upon by the Vancouver Sun, who did a 4 part series outlining the IT failures in the Public Sector and a section on possible solutions to avoid it in the future.

In some of the cases, it has now come to the point that project managers are not even willing to predict a go-live date because they are so far off track. There will always be someone attempting to spin this in their favour, because they are paid to, but the reality is that the lack planning for the project is the primary failure.

Now think of a Small or Medium size Business (SMB) heavy market like British Columbia; those levels of failure cannot be an acceptable risk. This has resulted in a number of companies delaying or never adopting key IT projects that would be beneficial to their organization’s growth because the alternative is much worse than maintaining the status quo.

This is where pre-project planning becomes the star or the super hero that saves the day.

Project Fail Obamacare

Not many issues have polarized Americans more than the Affordable Healthcare Act. Politics brought the project failure of healthcare.gov into the limelight with numerous complains about performance, accessibility and glitches. When the most powerful man the the world has to address the issue in public, you know that an epic failure has just occurred.

” For a myriad reasons, pre-project planning is often undervalued in the buying process. Whether this is due to limited budgets, flawed past experiences, or tenuous relationships with sales, it’s a common view that it’s an avoidable step. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that an investment in pre-project planning often leads to a lower total spend as well as higher success rates with projects.” Read More

A flaw in the project management practise is that pre-project planning is regularly not included as step 1 of a project. The project is identified, there is a start date identified, an evaluation of the existing state, a description of the end state and then you plan the path to get there. That sounds pretty solid in theory, however, has that path been tested? Is the path going to be tested on the fly, meaning once you hit a hurdle you react to it versus attempting to foresee the problems before starting the project?

Pre-project planning is the practise of identifying and outlining the risks associated to the project, the primary resources (time, people and money), evaluating the resolutions to those risks and evaluating the best path available to achieve the project before anything is officially “kicked off”. This process will not catch everything but it has proven to drastically reduce the number of failed projects and the number of overages in cost and time to delivery.

The process of planning before taking the first step is often ignored, overlooked or stripped from the final proposal as a means to reducing the cost. It’s unfortunate because the cost is regularly 5 to 10% of the overall project and if that 5 to 10% were to save your organization from engaging in a project that will have at least a 45% chance of going over budget or at least 56% of not delivering the expected business benefits, would the investment now be worth it? There are professionals in the market that can do this step for you and then hand the plan over to the project team to deliver.

DTM is one of those organizations and with our ADEPT methodology; we apply the 5 steps in the process to reveal the areas where hidden projects await and where potential points of failure are looming. The end result of the process will identify areas of concern, include recommendations on corrective actions should foreseeable hurdles occur, and we will provide you with the insight needed to make a confident step in the right direction with a complete view of what the successful road ahead looks like.

Project failures don’t need to be the norm, we just need to shift our expectations and start investing in pre-project planning and then applying those learnings to the project management phases – you will approve of the results.

Our customers come from many different industries and vary in size. We know that these customers will not have the same resources as the illustrious names mentioned this week in the Vancouver Sun. Most organizations do not have large I.T. departments to support these projects nor the technical knowhow to circumvent troublesome issues. This is where DTM Systems wants to change things for the better. A Managed Services product from DTM not only ensures proactive monitoring and up to date technology for the customer, but also gives the customer an option to minimize project failure by adopting our ADEPT project pre-planning component. Designed to “break down” a project during the planning phase, we aim to ensure that project failure occurs during the non-critical stage of the project.

You would not buy a home without knowing if foundations are solid, nor would you purchase a car knowing that there were no crash tests done on it. So why should your I.T. projects be any different? DTM wants to change this mentality with our ADEPT pre-project planning program, because the only acceptable failure should only occur on paper before the project begins.

DTM Server Room

“Breaking” a project on paper helps to ensures that possible roadblocks are not disruptive to business processes.

3d27821  Tyler Cairns has been a business professional in the technology world for 15 years.  Through the years he has had a wide range of experiences that include working with the world’s largest retailers, government organizations of all sizes, non-profit organizations, education institutions and local small to medium-sized businesses. Tyler’s desire to have his customers plan for failures to help solidify their success, has resulted in his clients being able to address their business needs ranging from the basic levels of infrastructure to the complexities brought forth by cloud or adopting “as a service” solutions and everything in between.

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