As a small- to mid-sized business (SMB) owner, you want to spend judiciously on your IT. If you don't plan your IT budget, it can balloon unexpectedly, throwing your numbers awry. Most big businesses have enough money to shoulder unplanned expenses. But for SMBs whose pockets don’t go as deep, such runaway projects can be catastrophic to your bottomline.
Truth is, IT projects are notoriously difficult to manage and can easily eat up your time and money. An average IT project will go over-budget by 27%. And one out of six IT projects will be deemed a “black swan,” having a cost overrun of 200% and schedule overrun of 70%.
You or your Chief Information Officer (CIO) should always be on the lookout for IT spending with little-to-no business value. Here are some telltale signs that you should pull the plug on an IT project.
#1 IT projects with no project plan or project mandate
Projects that don’t start with a solid plan are a recipe for disaster. Every decision regarding the project should be made relative to the mandate. A clear mandate is the compass that’ll steer things back on track should a project veer off course.
Another example of project deviation is scope creep, wherein unplanned increases are added to a project’s requirements. Software upgrades are a good example. When an upgrade is installed, users fall in love with its new features. They then end up adding things, transforming what was a basic software upgrade into an unplanned revamp of your business processes.
Always insist on a mandate for every IT project, and be ready to pull the plug on projects with no defined plans.
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#2 Lack of involvement with the necessary people
Every project needs a project owner, project manager or sponsor, business stakeholders, and of course, the end users. Everyone has a role to play. When key people are left out of the process, things fall in between the cracks; requirements are not clearly stated, or the wrong changes are incorporated in the project. Such developments can derail a project.
#3 Investments gone stale
It's easy for business owners to fall into the habit of maintaining existing tools and systems that no longer work optimally. After a number of years, certain hardware or software tools can be consolidated or even decommissioned. Your needs for maintenance and support will change over time; be prepared to drop projects that have become stale investments.
#4 IT projects with unclear or unrealistic goals
A project often starts with a broad, big-picture idea: “Let’s go paperless,” or “Let’s go all-digital,” or “Let’s enable remote working.” But if these broad ideas aren’t translated into goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound), you may end up with a project that looks good on paper but a nightmare to execute.
An example of this is cloud migration. Many SMBs get caught up with the buzz and want to migrate 100% of their system onto the cloud. But the reality is that not every application can or should be shifted to the cloud; hard decisions have to be made as to which ones stay and which ones are moved.
It’s difficult to manage IT projects, partly because many businesses fail to realize how complex they can be, and also because technology changes rapidly. That’s why it pays to partner with a managed services provider (MSP) like Online Computers. Our IT specialists are highly experienced on various IT projects, and they’re always up-to-date with the latest IT developments. If you’re in need of an MSP, drop us a line or an email and leave the technology to us.
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