At PointClear Solutions, we spend a fair amount of time speaking to the importance of approaching software development – whether for a simple app or a highly complex enterprise solution – with a solid strategy. Our decades of collective experience in the technology space have taught us that this approach is best. And we’re reminded of its power regularly, as people reach out to us for help in getting their “almost there” (i.e. failing) projects across the finish line.
So, why do IT projects fail and, more importantly, how can a strategic approach help you succeed? Let’s look at four common project pitfalls and how to avoid them.
1. No clear project owner
According to global market intelligence firm IDC, 54% of IT project failures can be attributed to poor project management (whereas only 3% are attributed to technical challenges). Strong project management begins and ends with a strong project owner – a single individual who is responsible for managing project timelines, resources, budget, communications, and deliverables. Designate and empower a PO before you do anything else.
2. Lack of clarity around the Scope of Work (SOW)
Scope creepis one of the most common causes of IT project failure. By clearly defining your SOW early on, you ensure understanding and agreement across the project team on critical things like:
- What’s in and what’s out;
- What will be addressed now, versus what may be considered later;
- What will be delivered when, by whom, and at what cost; and
- The plan for monitoring, maintaining, and scaling over the long-term.
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3. Not enough consideration given to the market and/or end user
It can be easy to assume you know what the market demands and what your users want, but without taking time to research both, you’re really just taking a shot in the dark. Market and user research doesn’t have to be resource intensive and can be approached in a variety of ways. Regardless of your approach, when you understand things like competitive positioning and your users’ goals, behaviors, pain points, and typical tasks, you’re better positioned to deliver a technology solution that meets a real need.
4. Inability to adapt
You know the saying: “The best-laid plans…” Well, it exists for a reason. No matter how carefully a project is planned, things will happen and needs will change (if not immediately, then over time), and you’ve got to be able to adapt. This is why PointClear leans on an Agile approach to development – and, well, everything we do. A “build, learn, iterate” mindset is necessary for project success. Believe it. Live it.
Shawn Ewing is Director of Project Management with PointClear Solutions.
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