- Not understanding the requirements
- Choosing the wrong solution, or the wrong vendor to implement the solution
- Underestimating the level of effort, resulting in budget or time over-runs
- Lack of organizational change management
- Poor project management
Not Understanding the Requirements
This usually happens due to not spending enough time planning and really understanding the problem you are trying to solve. This is probably less common for IT sponsored projects than it is for business projects. There always seems to be some level of disconnect between the business and IT. Usually it is just a knowledge gap. IT personnel or business analysts try to document the business process, but things are missed because they don’t have an in depth knowledge of that business process or operation, and business leaders are not thinking about the ways the process or technology is linked to systems and downstream processes.
Ways to minimize this risk:
- Look for requirements that were used in similar projects for other companies. Use peer groups, industry experts, or other tools.
- Build up a BA competency over time to really understand the business unit’s processes, requirements, and systems. Process map and diagram the process.
- Keep asking “why” and “how” and drilling in with business leaders, understand reporting and other requirements needed to run the business.
- Find other companies that are like yours who are using the solution…and talk to them. What gaps or disappointments did they have? What do they think are the strengths of either the solution or the implementation partner?
- Find data on strengths and weaknesses of the vendor or solution by using research companies, peer groups, and other resources.
- Don’t rely on the vendor’s sales or consulting/engineering team to assess product fit. You cannot delegate this responsibility and they do not have your best interest in mind.
- Understand the complete business and technical landscape. What other systems will it touch that could lead to hidden costs? Do you have all the licenses and modules accounted for? Are there any integrations or other activities that need to happen to fully deploy the solution?
- Research what other companies have done to implement this solution and how much it cost them to implement.
- Count on every project going over the anticipated cost and budget a cushion of 10-25%, depending on the project and how many unknowns there are.
If delivering IT projects were easy, they would always come in on time, on budget, and deliver expected value. We know that it is rare when this happens and is the exception and not the norm. The difference in most cases is information. Information on requirements, solutions, and vendors that is often hard, if not impossible to get. Join peer groups and create a network of people and companies that can help you deliver exceptional results on a consistent basis.
And finally, don’t forget about the power of assessments as a precursor to projects in order to estimate costs and document requirements. This is cheap insurance to uncover unknowns and leverage the experience of other professionals. Use this information to create an RFQ or RFP with the goal of giving vendors better information to produce a better cost estimate, and to highlight the differentiation between solutions and solution providers.