A recent question posed on LinkedIn made me think about a problem that has plagued IT for as long as it has existed: How do we get out of the “death spiral” of IT project overload? This affects all parts of the IT spectrum, including QA, QC, CM, PMO, development, and the business. As of March, there have been more than forty comments on this topic, and they all make valid points.
So why do IT professionals continue to succumb to project overload? The problem is not that we take on too much. I think the problem lies in the fact that we don’t manage our projects very well, and these repeated failures lead to overload as we can’t deliver what we promise.
Project initiation is the first stop on our tour of why we have project overload in IT. This excerpt from IT Project Management: On Track from Start to Finish shows us how to initiate a project, control it, manage it, and close it—with the emphasis placed on initiating the project.
Remember this: Most projects fail early on and never recover. Calleam.com offers us a much more concise look at project initiation and why it's so important to a project's success.
If we initiate our project correctly, then we should be able to eliminate the reason for project failure. The next step is project execution. Cortexion.com offers us a paper on a common-sense approach to project execution through the eyes of the construction industry. The author recommends reading the executive summary and chapter four on execution strategy.
Now if we initiate and execute the project correctly, surely we can finish our projects on time, under budget, and meet the requirements of the business—can't we?
Though this column from the Portland Business Journal is a little dated, it hits the nail on the head: Project failure is about people. So, how do we fix our people issues before the project is doomed? For the answer, I found a great article in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. These two articles provide you with the starting points to fix your people issues.
The last piece of the reason why IT projects fail and cause project overload is from the business side itself. Mindtools.com offers us a look at the business failures that can lead to IT project failure. Rather than focus on why they fail, I offer this document to help us bridge the divide between business and IT.
We have looked at just a few reasons IT project overload occurs. The question I pose to you is this: Are you part of the cure or part of the problem?
Joe Townsend has been in the configuration management field for twelve years. He has worked for CNA Life Insurance, RCA, Boeing, UPS, and in state government. Joe has primarily worked with Serena tools, including PVCS Version Manager, Tracker, TeamTrack (Mashups), and Dimensions. He is an administrator for WebFocus and supports Eclipse users.