Effective Delivery Excellence Collaborate to Derive Business Value from IT Projects!

By Niranjan Bal, CISO, PMO and Head Analytics (General Manager IT), Hindalco Industries Ltd.

One may get a thought that in today’s age where IT is supposedly an evolved area of expertise, why should one be discussing on Delivery and Delivery excellence.

IT Industry in India has grown from Rs five billion to Rs 130 billion from 1998 till today. It contributes to Rs 2 trillion in India GDP which is 27.5 percent of the GDP. Direct employment by IT sector in India has risen from 0.18 million to three million people since 1998.

Having known these facts, even today, the common questions faced by IT are: 1) has IT Delivered? 2) “But what is Delivery” and 3) Is delivery a sole responsibility of IT?

One has to understand that Delivery is about getting the basics of execution right. So how should IT projects be executed? This question has been answered by Rudyard Kipling when he says, “I kept six honest serving men and they taught me all I knew; they were What, Why, When, How, Where and Who.”

Why do IT Projects Fail?
The main reason for project failure is that no-one prevented it from failing. If you eliminate the possibility of failure, the only possibility you have left is success!!

As per the Standish Groups report, in 1994, 84 percent of Major ERP projects were either challenged or cancelled. Sixteen years later (i.e year 2010), 68 percent projects still met the same grim fate. The salient findings of the report were that only one-third of Major ERP Projects achieve Success. A quarter of them are Complete Failures (Impaired) and the rest land somewhere in the middle (Challenged). They are often way over budget and deliver disappointing results. 

The top seven reasons for IT Projects failure are Poor Scope Definition, Poor User Input, Incomplete or changing requirements, Inadequate Resources, Unrealistic timelines, Lack of Planning and Lack of Senior Management Support.

Paronomasia or Pun as it is popularly known
Business says it wants a four legged animal, black in color with a trunk and strong enough to carry one person. It should cost less than Rs 30000 and maintenance of not more than Rs 3000 per annum.

It is expected that an elephant will be delivered. However, based on the budget and requirements, it gets a buffalo with a trunk, as it suffices all the stated requirements.

Understanding Execution
Understanding Execution 
Business and IT have to be looked upon together. They can never be separate. They can never be either or. The six Building Blocks of Execution are:
• Razor-sharp Focus – It requires assessment and clarity of goals
• Knowing the guts of business - Accurate requirement gathering and analysis
• Right people in the right jobs - Team building
• Managing the business social system - Steering committee and Project organization structure
• Detail execution planning - Implementation plan
• Follow through habit - Review mechanism and meticulous follow up

Project Categorization is the key - Business Projects v/s IT Projects
Business Transformation projects need a lot of business user’s involvement. Requirements are given by the business and key users are assigned. Testing is done by business users, business signs off the projects and IT acts as an enabler. 

Secondly, Business and NOT IT is the project owner, for example ERP, BI, Hyperion etc. IT Projects (technology initiatives) are completely driven by IT. Requirements are based on the business needs but formulated by IT. There is no business involvement in the project. Examples are Email, Video Conferencing, Data Center, Networking, Cloud Computing etc. 

So what’s a Business IT Project in that case? Business IT Project is a business transformation project and NOT an IT project. IT is an enabler of Business IT Project. IT can whet appetite, but business has to drive it. Business IT Project has to be driven by business and not IT. Business IT Project is ‘Of the Business’, ‘For the Business’ and ‘By the Business’. IT is the implementation partner. 

Collaboration is the key to success
Business has to lead the project. Value and deliverables have to be clearly established before the start of the project. Requirements analysis has to be thorough. Business and Technology Architecture have to be complete. Project has to be holistically planned and executed. Business involvement amounts to 55 percent of the total effort. 

Business and IT collaboration is the key to success. It is never too late to collaborate. One should bear in his or her mind that that execution is not a skill. It is an attitude!

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