12/10/2016

The 5 pitfalls of IT projects

IT projects are getting more and more difficult while clients are getting more and more demanding. This, you know. But are you aware of the impact of these evolutions?

Due to the increased complexity, high demands and speedy decisions, we sometimes tend to get lost in translation. So it’s really key to stay focused and be aware of possible risks that can occur during the course of an IT project. Being aware implies that you are familiar with the most common pitfalls of projects.

1. The importance of the pre-contractual phase

The pre-contractual phase is the foundation upon which projects are built. This is the time to check whether we are confronted with quicksand upon which we cannot build anything. After all, no-one wants to live in a house that is inhabitable.

You can overcome this pitfall by inviting a multidisciplinary team of people. This will give you a more complete and critical view on all pre-contractual documentation (which serves as the basis for the contract).

Some tips:

• Initiate a lively discussion on the feasibility of the requested project
• Invest sufficient time in reviewing all documents

2. Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee

Too often, project teams are left out of the procurement phase. The result? They end up inheriting someone else’s mess. 

Whenever the sales department receives an interesting RFP, it should be customary to immediately have the relevant project team/manager review in depth the technical requirements as put forward by the customer. 

Sales and project managers should communicate on a daily basis before and during the project.

3. The collaboration between service provider and client

Most likely, the customer will have to do a few things as well before a service provider can deliver its services. Customer responsibilities should therefore be highlighted and formalized during the negotiations. It’s key that customers provide their service providers with all the information and assistance required to deliver the project(s).

Being in sync with your customer from the very beginning will enable both to enjoy a synergetic and productive project!

4. Poor project management

OK. So the contract is signed, the deal is closed, management is happy, expectations are high. What could possibly go wrong? Well, I probably can write a novel or two about the things that can go wrong due to poor project management. But much of it can be overcome by investing adequate time in setting up a good project management plan and clarifying the different roles and responsibilities

It’s not only comforting to have an overview of responsibilities, governance and dispute resolution flows, a history of strategic decision-making, change requests, … it also strengthens your position when disputes occur.

5. Challenge your client

Customers need to be clear about the outcome they seek. One cannot expect a service provider to be ‘madame soleil’. By challenging assumptions and beliefs, not just at the start but also throughout the project, many misconceptions can be identified and defused in a timely manner.
It’s important to take your time to discuss and clarify expectations during the pre-contractual phase. Once a well-balanced agreement has been reached, parties can start to build a mansion on a good foundation.

Also invest sufficient time in good communication, collaboration and a consistent follow-up throughout the project. After all, no-one wants to end up with a small cabin build upon a solid foundation!

Author: Florence Leterme. You can follow Florence on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn