Technology projects are full of challenges to trip up even the most experienced project managers. In this video, Bob McGannon explores ways of managing your technology project including understanding the business impact, analyzing business changes and customization of new products. In addition, you will learn how to deal with vendors and the importance of product knowledge.
- Technology projects can challenge even the most experienced project managers. The biggest issue is typically that the required business focus is overlooked. This can lead to technology organizations merrily implementing projects that their businesses do not use. The first challenge you'll need to tackle is getting your stakeholders onboard. Stakeholders need to be involved right from the start helping you make decisions about the business impacts your project can introduce to their organization.
Another common challenge with technology projects is purchasing a product then trying to change or customize the product too much. Versus changing business processes. You're typically better off changing business processes to operate your technology the way it's designed to be used. A good rule of thumb is to ensure 85% of your business requirements can be achieved using a standard technology product offering. If less than 85% of your requirements aren't met, and you choose to customize the product extensively, it gets very expensive.
The product will take much longer to implement and will be more expensive to maintain as customizations will need to be reapplied or rewritten whenever the product updates are applied. Another option is to negotiate with your vendor to have your required customizations applied to the base product offering. You'll probably still have to pay for the changes, but you'll save maintenance costs over the life of the product, because the customizations will now be included in future product releases.
If the product does not meet 85% of your requirements, and you aren't able to change your existing business processes, I suggest you consider another product, or a second product that together will be better suited for your needs. Your last option is to develop a customized, but spoke solution, versus purchasing a packaged product. But I would only recommend that if the solution is going to provide a significant competitive advantage and is related to a core customer offering for your company.
A third common challenge with technology projects is dealing with vendors to implement your solution. Some vendors will imply significant capabilities prior to contract signature and then fail to deliver what you asked for without a substantial price increase. The best way to avoid this is to write detailed requirements and have your intended business processes documented before you sign a contract with any vendor. This way you and the vendor will know what you want and will have a clear view to deliver a successful outcome.
The fourth challenge is obtaining the knowledge required about the type of product you are about to implement. If you're not an expert, or don't have access to one, you're running your project at risk. A consultant with expertise specific to the type of technology you're implementing can be worth their weight in gold. They can provide you insights that otherwise you wouldn't have. And they can let you know if the vendor is potentially leading you astray. This can be as simple as contacting a fellow project manager who has worked with your proposed technology in the past, or adding a specialist to your team as a full-time subject matter expert.
Even a little time from an expert can save you a lot of headaches later. Managing technology projects can be challenging, but it has a lot of rewards as well. If you define your requirements and business processes, communicate to business stakeholders, select a product based on the agreed requirements, and reach out to experts when necessary, you'll be positioned for success.
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