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Don't be spooked by IT implementation: Tips for success

Halloween is getting close. For many, it’s a scary time of year. Spooks and ghosts, creepy stories, television specials and horror movies are aired regularly throughout the season. Some of us might become more aware of black cats crossing our paths.

But these are not the only things that scare us. Those of us working in technology face our own Halloween frights, perhaps even numerous times a year, regardless of the season. For some, do phrases like “IT implementation” scare you? Some organisations are hesitant to implement a solution because of the occasional horror stories about an implementation that took months or even years, or worse yet, was never completed. IT solutions can be extremely beneficial to an organisation, once they are implemented, but it is that road to implementation that scares many people away.

The reality is that many implementations do fail because of common mistakes. One study found that 61 per cent of IT implementations take much longer than expected. To avoid becoming part of the statistic, it is beneficial to look at past failures. The following are some of the common reasons why implementations were prolonged or failed.

No Scope of Work

Fear of failure often can lead to failure. One of the most common reasons for failure is that an organisation and their vendor do not plan out a scope of work. Without such a scope, there’s very little chance for success. What this means is that there is no exact idea of where the project is going or what exactly needs to be done to measure success.

Without a road map of exactly where one needs to go, a project will take on a mind of its own and will continue indefinitely without an end date in sight. The same can be said when constructing a building; how would you expect the construction to go smoothly without a blueprint in place? Thus, to create a working blueprint, you must perform an assessment of your current situation, something that many organisations simply do not do. This includes an analysis of business priorities, controls, processes, system environment and execution environment. This ensures that not only do you have a blueprint or scope of work, but that it is accurate for your specific situation and needs.

Implementing everything now, all at once

In addition to not having a scope of work, many try to implement everything at once. This is almost always a recipe for disaster. While this will make the implementation cumbersome and difficult to manage and, usually, will spin out of control. When trying to do too much, nothing will likely get done. 

Undoubtedly, a project needs to be broken into different phases with clear sections to the implementation. The first parts of any project should be the most critical parts, the parts that help the organisation to receive a quick return on investment. Make sure to start small and test the solution with a select group of users first to ensure that it is working correctly before it is rolled out to everyone.

From there, build upon the solution by adding other benefits and features that will help the organisation, but that are not as high priority of the most important tasks.

Choose the right vendor partner

Many project leaders choose their partners based largely on price for services offered, but this can be one of the biggest issues with finding the right partner. Price should never be the biggest priority. For example, vision may be more important to the project’s goals and the anticipated outcomes of the organisation.

Additionally, the vendor you selected based on price might not have the knowledge or expertise about the technology or infrastructure that the organisation uses. This can lead them to a custom build, or even worse, figuring out how to create the solution for the organisation that adds a great deal of time to the implementation. Every organisation has different infrastructure in place and different needs, which is why basing the choice solely on price can lead to many obvious and some less obvious issues.

Top management must buy in

Implementations fail for many reasons and one of them is because there is little to no support from top management. Want the project to succeed? Get your leadership team involved. Among the many projects and initiatives taking place at your organisation, your implementation project may get lost and not have top priority.

Different departments have competing agendas, leading to top management to not pay close enough attention to the implementation. Without top management buy in, the project likely will not move forward and the goal lost. Any implementation likely may take the attention of several employees. Top management is needed to ensure that the correct people in the organisation are working day to day to ensure that the project is getting completed.

Creating a successful implementation

Still spooked, creeped out, worried about what’s around your implementation’s corner. No need to worry or to be scared; use the following tips to ensure that your implementation is successful and does not run aground. 

  1. Create a specific scope of work in place - Make sure that from the beginning your organisation completes and assessment and creates a blueprint for exactly what is going to happen.
  2. Choose the right vendor - Make sure that you do the correct research and ask the correct questions to ensure that the vendor you choose has the expertise needed to deal with your particular situation.
  3. Implement in phases - Trying to implement the solution all at once can lead to mess of a confusion where chaos reigns and can turn into a never-ending project. By implementing in phases with the first most critical parts first, you will be able to ensure that the project has a clear ending date and is working toward a successful outcome.
  4. Get support from top-level management or fail - Ensure that managers are supporting, and understand the importance of the project. 

Dean Wiech, managing director of Tools4ever

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