A problem the industry has struggled with for years is the level of project failures, whether this is defined as cost over run, schedule slips or cancelled projects. It has been recognised across many disciplines that a way to move forward on this is to develop a standard approach for doing things that is relevant to your business, and then to become highly skilled at replicating this in different environments. This has come into IT in many different guises, such as CMMI and ITIL, but it can be surprising how often organisations are not applying the ideas to their projects.
So why isn’t this being done, especially by smaller companies? The main reasons I have come across are:
- The implementation investment is too high.
- The introduction of standardisation will damage current delivery.
- All our projects are different, so the value is low.
- Lack of management buy-in.
- Cost-benefit isn’t proven yet.
- We don’t have many project failures, so why would we change.
Given time each of these arguments can be deconstructed, and usually the result is that the benefits from standardisation of process can far outweigh the investment. The main issue is the perception that the process standardisation must be a massive task with everything defined in a single process manual written and signed off at the beginning. If that is the approach taken then the result is likely to be a problem.
Agile development is quite common in software development. The same principles can be applied to the process development. Start small and iterate; then prioritise the development and implementation based on need. The CMMI approach may be too heavy weight for your organisation in its entirety, but it does identify process priorities with well reasoned arguments for why each area is a priority. (There is a link to it on the Sarquol web site if you would like to know more.)
If you would like to discuss an appropriate approach for your organisation then please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call on +44 7887 536083.