IT projects can derail for a number of reasons. Understanding where they have stalled, ensuring you’ve got the right people behind you and revisiting the project plan can get them back on track.
“Can we roll this out by year end?”
A simple nine-word question that can strike fear into even an experienced IT professional working in a law firm.
We have been on the receiving end of phone calls from fraught Managing Partners and stressed IT Directors who are struggling to get their IT project back on track. Often they don’t know what to do, where to start, who to turn to/talk to and are stuck in procrastination paralysis.
Here are 5 key steps to getting your IT project back on track:
1. Determine the reason why your IT project has derailed. This can help you tackle the problem head on and put contingencies in place to avoid it happening again. There are a number of factors that can cause an IT project to derail, including:
• Internal resource limitations, e.g. holiday, sickness, project manager leaves
• Supplier selling the software to another vendor
• Technology not delivering as you expected/needed
• Going over budget
• Poor communication from the supplier
• Changes to the scope of the project internally
• Lack of internal sponsorship and engagement for the project
• Lack of governance – no clear responsibilities or ownership
• Poor handover from the procurement team to the implementation team
2. Appoint an experienced project manager to review the project and who has the time and capabilities to ensure the project keeps moving and stays on track through to completion. This may be someone in-house, but if internal resources are limited (and the reason the project has derailed in the first place) you may need to appoint an external project manager, such as a Lights-On consultant.
3. Assess and reform your internal project team. The project manager should ensure the right people, roles and responsibilities are assigned, taking into account availability. This may mean replacing people from the original team for the good of the project. Having an external, impartial project manager here will help to avoid internal politics.
4. Re-visit the project plan – are the dates/key milestones realistic? Consider availability of resources. Document what is in scope and what isn’t.
5. Communicate the plan clearly and agree the actions with all stakeholders, ensuring good governance. Clear and regular communication, along with pragmatic decision making will help to keep the project on track.