system analyst and adjunct cio business analyst and technical writer

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» Are you prepared to deal with 4-1 odds against your project's success?
» Do you have an agile project methodology?
» Have you defined success criteria and obtained buy-in?

Answered no to any of these?

We can help.


A 70-80% project failure rate is almost unimaginable but very real.

You've probably heard that 70-80% of information technology projects fail. Sounds incredible, doesn't it? That means the odds are stacked against you!

Projects fail for a variety of reasons though most commonly failure is defined as exceeding budget by more than 10% or missing a critical deadline. Quality is always an issue. And, of course, if someone's pet feature got left out, the project failed in the eyes of that person.

It's disheartening and demoralizing to face such seemingly insurmountable odds. Whether you're building a custom software application, overhauling your network infrastructure or simply upgrading desktop applications, there are many risks awaiting you. Lack of an effective process, using an overbearing process, poor documentation, understaffing, too many cooks, poor communications…the list seems endless.

You can't please everyone but you can be successful.

Despite odds of 4 to 1 against you, software and technology projects can be successful. Small, agile projects have a greater chance of success than larger ones. Likewise, small teams are more likely to succeed than large ones.

The old saying, "divide and conquer", applies to technology projects. Large project teams can be divided into multiple highly cohesive yet loosely coupled ones. Agile techniques can keep the teams synchronized and produce superior results.

By increasing your success rate, your teams can be energized and more productive. The quality of your deliverables will improve dramatically. The job will actually get easier as your internal and external "customers" become more confident in your team. You'll be able to spend more time on strategic issues and less time firefighting.

Agile teams have a higher success rate!

This isn't a pitch for some big, expensive development methodology or incomprehensible lifecycle management routine. In fact, the key to success is to keep it simple and agile. Our experience with complex methodologies shows that most people just don't understand them and cannot use them effectively. Hundreds of pages of process documentation will not solve the problems outlined here. They will only get worse!

Our approach is based on agile project management principles. There are seven key elements to agile project success:

  1. Collaborate don't just communicate.
  2. Focus on people, policies and processes, not technology.
  3. Keep it simple by seeking to minimize the work to be done.
  4. Embrace change as a vehicle for sustainable solutions.
  5. Seek incremental refinement through iterative delivery.
  6. Track progress by measuring tangible results.
  7. Strive for continuous improvement through project retrospectives.

Some of the specific tools used in agile project management are daily team meetings, active business involvement, prioritized requirements, short-term deliverables, open and honest team discussions, and a clear focus on quality results. You've heard the saying "Think globally, act locally". The corresponding agile saying is "Think tomorrow, act today."

Take immediate action to gain control. Introduce more procedures in time.

We will craft a set of short term initiatives to get things under control fast. Your staff can only absorb a limited number of new ideas quickly. We'll identify a small number of quick hits that give you maximum payback.

We'll also provide a set of longer term guidelines to keep current and future projects on track. All in clear and simple English. A brief half or full day session with your staff will be enough to get them on board and using the new guidelines.

You can't afford to wait. Your risk only increases with time.

To learn more about successful development methodologies, read our article called "You Need A Winning Process!".

Time is running out


There's never enough of it. It always seems to slip away faster when you need it most. You seem to run out of it on occasion.

Time isn't the real issue, however. Face it, there's never enough time. Get used to it!

Similar arguments can be made regarding cost. Let's not even go there.

Running successful projects requires control and collaboration, with compassion.

Stay in control. Use a structured approach and apply software tools effectively.

Collaborate. Communication is not good enough. The internet and wireless devices have changed the rules.

Show some compassion. Your team(s) will be under considerable stress. Acknowledge it and listen to their concerns.