How to plan a successful IT project: The three-phase method

To ensure success of a new IT project, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the three aspects that will define each step of your project: time, people and technology.

Since these steps are all closely related, they need to be synchronized and considered as early as possible, even before beginning the implementation process. Typically, IT decision makers need to start planning their project several months before it begins.

It’s important to set realistic objectives and deadlines and determine what resources are required. There are three key phases in any IT project:

Phase One: Project Setup

People

  • Make sure that the objectives of your project are tied closely to your corporate objectives. If it is unclear what those goals are, or worse, if they clearly oppose each other, then you will be embarking on a very complicated journey to change people’s minds.
  • Communicate with all of the parties involved, whether they are directly and imminently involved or not. Getting the message across to everybody as soon as possible is the best way to diffuse any initials concerns.
  • You also need to diversify the number of channels and people who communicate on the objectives of the project. The more people that get involved, the easier it is to get buy-in from the majority.

Technology

  • The quality of your data will define how complex it will be to implement your IT project. Obviously the cleaner your data, the better. But you also need to ensure that the quality of your data remains consistent through time and changes.
  • Before you begin the implementation process, you need to design a comprehensive development plan. You cannot think of everything, but you need to be prepared with a plan that will allow you to avoid or manage potential issues when you start integrating the solution.

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Phase Two: Implementation

People

  • Select a group of users to get started on the solution as soon as possible. Conducting a pilot will help for two primary reasons. First, it will allow users to understand early on what they will be required to do and how the project benefits the company. Second, they’ll also be in a position to give you valuable feedback.
  • Immediately address any difficulties your test group is facing. If you can identify those early on, you can correct them before they start affecting your users’ experiences.
  • Share any success stories within the company. What better way to show people your IT solution works then by showing examples of how it benefited specific employees?

Technology

  • Once you have designed a clear integration plan you can effectively start implementing your solution, but always ensure you allow as much time and resources as necessary.
  • While assessing the difficulties users might encounter, you also need to figure out what technical issues you might come across. Again you need to plan, but you also need to review your plan and adapt it to the evolving situation and specifications.

Phase Three: Go Live

People

  • Analyse how the project is operationally being implemented. Is it going as planned? Are there any corrective actions required? Setting measures and reports to monitor trends is a good way to understand what is effectively going on.
  • Ask yourself: Is the IT solution easy to use? Is the process simple enough to be followed? Gathering feedback from the users will help you assess this.
  • Reward the users that use the solution best. There is no better way to motivate people than showing them that there is something in it for them. You could, for instance, set incentives for the attainment of certain objectives.

Technology

  • Validate and monitor the quality of your data constantly. You have worked hard to get clean data, but that doesn’t mean it is going to stay clean.
  • Don’t think that once you have gone live the job is done. This is only the beginning and systems evolve constantly so you’ll need to plan for how your project will evolve too.
  • Start thinking about where your solution is going. Foreseeing potential developments and gathering feedback will help you angle your project and improve adoption of the users.

By following this advice, planning realistically and regularly adapting your plan as needed, your IT implementation can become a true success.

Andrew Wilsdorf is a Customer Success Manager at Zilliant.