Get on the Right IT Projects – Here’s How

Did you ever feel like you were pushing a boulder up a hill? Maybe it's not you, but rather your project or gig. Here's a look at some different types of IT projects and the factors that improve their likelihood of success - and yours!

Face it, there are times when you can do no wrong, when it takes little effort to get big results...

...and there are times when no matter how much you do, how hard you work, how efficient your team gets, or how strategically focused your efforts are...success is hard to come by.

Look at different industries. People in fields like pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and electronics have seen tremendous opportunities for growth by getting involved with projects in these fields.

But there is a flip side. Even in those industries mentioned above - pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and electronics - there has been tremendous upheaval, dislocation, and failed projects. Indeed with opportunity comes risk.

The key, in all cases, is being able to manage the risks. In IT projects, the landscape is full of risks, large and small. And sometimes they are more controllable than others.

In a prior post about a week ago, I enumerated the specific IT projects, as determined in a Harvey Nash 2014 survey of CIOs. In that survey, three types of IT projects were mentioned, in order of probability of success:

  • Technical and infrastructure projects
  • Mobile apps, cloud and website projects
  • Business transformation projects

A comparison of these reveals some key success factors for determining whether a project has a high or low likelihood of success...and can help you to determine whether or not you want to get involved with the project.

With technical and infrastructure projects coming in as the most successful projects, what top factor could be responsible for that?

Predictability and clarity of definition, I think.

Technical and infrastructure projects generally involve installations of hardware and software, and resemble somewhat a construction project. There are clear steps, priorities, phasing, order of precedence...and, again, predictability in any particular task. The biggest thing is being clear on the requirements, and having the right resources in place.

Mobile apps, cloud and website projects were the second most likely to succeed. These are all very current technologies, disruptive in nature, and hence with a high impact and return. In other words, it's hard to go wrong with these projects, even if execution is less than optimal.

Business transformation projects tend to have a "touchy feely" character. There is less to get your hands around, more unpredictability, greater number of factors that could derail the project. Thus, business transformation projects are, by nature, less defined, more risky, and more complex. I'll group those factors into one: "high complexity and risk".

Thus, if you want to get onto the right IT projects, those with a higher propensity for successes, no matter what you do, look for projects that have at least one of the following as a dominating characteristic:

  1. Predictable
  2. High impact and return
  3. Low complexity and risk

To access my prior post on the Harvey Nash 2014 survey of CIOs, Click here.