The successful implementation of a new IT system is a critical component to maintaining a competitive advantage in today’s business world. IT projects can be extremely complex and require coordination with many players inside and outside an organization. Although such complexities cannot always be avoided, there are steps that can dramatically increase the chances for project success: careful planning; creating buy-in from key stakeholders throughout the organization; addressing top project management challenges; involving the right resources; tasking those closest to the data to complete their portion of the work first, and conducting thorough testing at all phases of the deployment process before going live.
For most organizations, however, there are other challenges that need to be addressed in order for IT projects to be successful. The following list includes five of the most common obstacles:
- Lack of executive sponsorship and support—If you don’t have an enthusiastic champion working on your behalf, it’s probably only a matter of time before your project is put on hold or canceled altogether. Senior management support can make all the difference between success and failure when implementing any IT solution.
- A lack of funding—Many budgetary decisions are based on short-term financial goals rather than long-term business needs. Finding the money needed to fund ambitious IT projects can be a daunting challenge. Underfunded projects may be canceled early in their life cycle, while timeshares, multitasking and other workarounds can prolong projects.
- Unclear scope—Projects that lack a clear focus are more likely to encounter obstacles than those with an established direction. Setting appropriate expectations is critical to project success. If everyone has the same understanding of the project’s goal, it will be easier to stay on track when issues arise.
- A vague implementation plan—Many IT projects fail because they have no specific plan for how to reach their goals, or the plan isn’t communicated effectively among all stakeholders throughout the organization. By laying out milestones and deliverables before starting a project and sticking to them once it begins, you’ll have a much greater chance of seeing your plans through until completion.
- Poor change management—Even the most carefully managed IT projects will hit some bumps along the road. The ability to quickly adapt and revise plans when problems arise is essential for staying on track.
Many of these challenges can be addressed during the planning phase of a project before deployment ever begins, but if IT projects are already in progress, there are steps that can still be taken to ensure their success. In many cases, it may be necessary to reallocate resources or adjust team members’ tasks if issues arise. A flexible mind-set will make it easier for you to keep your project focused and motivated over time.
In order to address each of these barriers, you’ll need a strategy tailored specifically for your business environment. The key is to start planning early and to communicate your goals clearly throughout the organization. Making sure your project has a champion who will fight for it when necessary can help ensure that you’ll be able to overcome even the toughest obstacles.