October 8, 2014

Secrets to IT Success – First in a Series

Small Project Teams


tatistics have shown that a large majority of Information Technology projects (some say as high as 90%) are not successful. In my experience, which includes over 20 years managing programs and projects in both the financial and healthcare industries and other fields as diverse as nuclear energy and environmental cleanup, successful projects all have some common themes.

The first rule of a successful project is: Have a small team of professionals who each feel responsible for the success of the project.

What are the important words in this statement?

Small – Small teams communicate better, collaborate better, and generally work better together. Interpersonal relationships develop such that there is no anonymous department or sub-committee to whom intermediate deliverables are thrown “over the fence.” The small teams work together to create complete deliverables. They understand that the success of intermediate deliverables is paramount to the success of the whole project.

Naturally, small teams imply small projects. Statistically, the success rate of a project goes up drastically as the size of the project goes down. This fact points to the need to break projects into manageable phases – each of which should provide measurable value. (This is a topic I intend to cover in a future post.)

ResponsibleEach of your team members should feel that the success of the project depends on their contribution. They should feel solely responsible for their portion. They should feel they have the final say and will ultimately feel the reward of success or the blame for failure. There is often a tendency for team members to abdicate their responsibility to the Team Lead or Project Manager and expect that this leader will catch and correct errors or even protect team members from blame or criticism. To be effective, a Team Member must feel the same responsibility as the leader.

ProjectIt is important that every member of the team focus on the success of the Project in addition to focusing on the success of their contribution. Each team member should be cross-trained enough to know how their contribution adds to the whole. It is not enough to simply focus on specific tasks assigned, each team member should feel the ultimate responsibility of the project’s success.

Stay tuned for my next post that will cover ”The Phased Approach – why it works”.

What has made your information technology project successful? What lessons have you learned?

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