November 25, 2014

Achieve IT Success in Phases

Information Technology Success Begins With One Step

(The second in our Secrets to IT Success series)


ne of the often overlooked secrets to a successful Information Technology project is the phased approach. As discussed in the previous blog post on successful IT projects, using a small dedicated team is a major factor to making your IT project a success. A small team necessitates a small project. There are two major considerations when beginning the first phase of a project: Scope and User Group.

Choose a small, achievable scope for Phase 1. The attributes of a well-chosen scope can be described as follows:

Success Oriented. The scope should be chosen such that it can be accomplished in 90 days. This is a reasonable amount of time for a small team to build something of value and a short enough period of time to be attractive to your customer.

Measurable Added Value. The scope should focus on a module or sub-system than can be implemented on its own and provide real value to a select operation or group of people.

Extensible. The scope should be chosen so that it is extensible to the larger system (future phases) without significant rework or adaptation.

Choose a small well-defined user group. If possible, the group chosen should be the group experiencing the most “pain” from the existing system or from lack of the new system. The user group should be under the control of the project sponsor so that an independent department does not need to be “sold” on the project.

Why Phases Work

A small scope with a small user group sets up the project for success. It may be considered “cherry-picking”, and it is! However, early success is essential to ultimate success, and a small scope and user group aids along that path. The small scope also shows the customer added value in a shorter period of time. The worth of both the project and the project team is demonstrated early. A small successful project is more likely to be extended once budget decisions have to be made again. Relieving the “pain” experienced by the small user group creates a cadre of project “champions” within the customer organization. They will naturally sell the project’s future phases to other departments and user groups who will be next involved. Finally, the Phase 1 will often provide a platform for feedback to influence and improve future phases. Such feedback is essential to a successful iterative approach.

A successful Phase 1 is essential to ensuring the ultimate success of the project. Set up your Phase 1 to maximize your opportunity for success!

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