I am amazed at how many businesses, when planning a new project of any type, blatantly state, “we don’t have time or budget to look at our business processes.” So the question I usually follow-up with is “then how do you know that this project will provide you with what you want?” After a short, sometimes long period of silence, the answer is, “well, we had a committee figure all of that out”. I have even gone so far as to say, “here is my business card, call me in two years”. Surprisingly enough, I have received the call backs with the potential client stating “can you help us understand our processes first, then determine how we can make them work more efficiently now that we have implemented a new software solution?”
The Standish 2009 Chaos report stated the following regarding software projects:
- 32% Successful (On Time, On Budget, Fully Functional)
- 44% Challenged (Late, Over Budget, and/ or Less than Promised Functionality)
- 24% Failed (Canceled or never used)
Why do projects fail and especially software projects? How can we help business projects be more successful? Remember ready, fire, aim? Most businesses would rather jump in and start a project without fully understanding 1) what is the business problem we are trying to solve, 2) how will I know I have solved it and 3) planning, gathering requirements and looking at business processes is often seen as “throw away” tasks.
But what if you took the position of ready, aim, fire? You may be surprised at the results. First you could understand your current processes, determine if they are the right activities in the process, then define a future state process that would be aligned with the intent of the project. And further still, you could ensure that the processes are aligned with the strategies and goals of the organization with quantifiable measurements! Once you have defined the future state and its supporting metrics, derive the requirements and use the requirements to drive the direction of the project and be aligned with the future process. Along the way, ensure you engage the organization and your result will be to hit the bull’s eye of the target (on time, on budget, fully functional).
Use your business processes as an asset to drive project requirements and take the position of ready, aim, fire. Chances are, you will the bull’s eye more times than not and even if you miss, you can still hit the target.
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