Commitment to a business plan

Around 30% of IT projects will be cancelled. Around 52% of projects will cost 189% of their original estimates.  Only 16% are completed on-time and on-budget. In larger companies, the news is even worse: only 9% of their projects come in on-time and on-budget.
HCi Journal

I was fortunate to work with some very experienced Business Analysts on a development project for a small ERP upgrade.  The project was required to be completed within three months. At first glance the Business Analysts seemed to be initially spending a lot of time in the back office with the business stakeholders trying to agree the look, the feel and the agreed processes required to put data into the new system.  I admit to several concerns about how much time was being spent on the detail and the fact that the developers had not really achieved anything with the deadline looming ever closer.  However, in due course a plan was agreed and everyone worked quickly to deliver against the fast approaching time limit.  The application went live just one day late, there were very few bugs and every one knew what was happening.  All necessary changes were agreed for phase two of the project, which was treated as a different project and overall, the simplicity of the system meant it was easy to use.

By complete contrast was a project in which I supplied some Business Analysts to an ERP project using Agile Methodology. The project had already started and was relying on the test team to thoroughly test the system. After over one year of software development everyone came to the realisation that the project would not be able to deliver the original requirements.  The reason being that a number of key business stakeholders were not able to agree on a range of process changes; consequently the requirements kept changing.  Eventually the project was scrapped and worse still – because there was no resulting product – there was nothing to depreciate against taxation.  This project served to emphasise the necessity of creating a clear business plan from the outset and making sure all involved are committed to achieving the agreed targets.

To achieve a positive and fruitful result in any significant project, it is fundamental to begin with a clear, documented plan against which progress can be measured. By setting daily and weekly goals as a minimum and monitoring progress on a regular basis, the dangers of a derailed project can be avoided and you’re much more likely to achieve the desired outcome.