Ten Steps To Manage IT Initiatives Successfully
The success of IT initiatives can be achieved through a methodical and consistent process, which is quite like any new product development.
Information Technology is critical for the sustainable and long-term success of any organization. As organizations across the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of IT initiatives has become ever critical, and IT leaders must design, execute, and manage it successfully. CIOs are under pressure to launch IT initiatives that exploit market opportunities, enhance customer connect, achieve operational efficiency, and adapt to the fast-changing technology landscape. This pressure has now intensified.
In the past, IT initiatives were more to do with compliances norm or demonstrating that the organization is keeping pace with technology, etc. However, it is now critical for CIOs to be part of a strategic think tank of the organization. Over the last few years, expectation from leadership has changed to delivering returns on IT investments, which means CIOs must go beyond implementation and track its life cycle to establish its usefulness.
It will not be surprising to find diverse (or diametrically opposite) opinions on the success of any IT initiative in an organization in subjective or objective feedback. Ensuring benefits on successful projects and avoiding expenditure on failed projects are equally important for CIOs. IT Heads are faced with the task of objectively prioritizing investments as no organization has unlimited IT budgets (more importantly during the current pandemic situation).
The success of IT initiatives can be achieved through a methodical and consistent process, which is quite like any new product development. Ten steps to manage IT successfully:
Eliminate initiatives that lack a strong purpose and carries a high risk of failure.
Establish a clear business case with the outcome, investments, risks, and dependencies clearly articulated and approved.
Define the success criterion and measurement method, which will be used by all consistently. Set up a steering committee that will provide guidance and issue resolution during the project life cycle and determine the degree of success after implementation.
Set up a robust framework and team for technical delivery. Typically, this aspect is focussed and managed very well by most of the organizations. However, it needs to be aligned to the deliverables promised in the business case and not on technological excellence alone.
For new technology or significant change in process, plan pilot to establish proof of concept and identify gaps, challenges, and any course correction before comprehensive rollouts.
Change management, user training, adoption as well as data management are major reasons for failure of IT initiatives. This must be prioritised to ensure success as per planned timelines.
User and authorization management is a very small portion for the implementation team, but it impacts the first experience/impression and a de-facto lifeline for the users. Hence, advance and detailed planning is a must for the same.
Post-go-live support and measurement capability are critical for success and sustainability. Thus, it should be planned much with processes, tools, and necessary staffing.
Detailed documentation, covering project lifecycle, technical details, user manuals, etc. is required for future change controls - making it accessible for reading and updating.
For the initiatives with a phased approach or roll-out plan, a project team must be retained to keep the focus on the same, without which it will linger and fail to achieve larger benefits.
The methodical approach, as suggested above, will ensure that organizations don’t rush to launch IT initiatives and make investments without detailed analysis and buy-in from stakeholders. Once approved, the project needs to be executed with an integrated view of core technology and allied processes. Proactive planning and alignment with business objectives are key factors for the success of IT initiatives.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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