All major IT-based software projects come with some degree of risk. The question, then, that needs to be answered is: In what way should executives step up and confront these issues before they become a major concern?
While many of these projects may have a tendency to go a bit beyond their bounds, marginally overstepping cost projections and deadlines, there is also the potential for such projects to become much larger problems, consuming vast amounts of time and money with little to no return on investment. This is where it is necessary for risk management to be able to forecast such issues, so that you can either correct the problem or terminate the project entirely. Perhaps the best way of managing such problems is through the implementation of risk-mitigation strategies.
One of the most frequent factors in IT projects that become problematic, are IT officers who simply failed to realize the severity of an issue until the project had spiraled out of control. This can be a simple matter of lacking the essential project management knowledge, such as issues of foresight, strategy and planning, to be able to properly oversee and orchestrate a project with the necessary degree of efficiency. Fortunately, this is an easy enough problem to correct given a set of simple guidelines for these managers to follow.
No intelligent engineer would ever use a sink-or-swim method for testing anything they built, as this is a sure way to meet with disaster. Similarly, this method should never be used in the development of IT projects wherein the resulting failure could bring about serious compliance risks and losses to the organization.
Instead, implement a simple structure to help coordinate and guide your efforts, following a “design, test, build” guideline that should always be used in larger, riskier projects. This means that, rather than charging headlong into a project and then rushing the resulting product into use, you must first take the time to carefully plan and design each step of a project, taking into account all possible issues and risks, and adjusting for them before developing the product. This will easily reduce the number of errors that turn up in the finished product.
Also, before a completed project is put into use, it should be carefully tested, modified where needed, and tested again, repeating this process until all potential risks have been repaired. While this may take time and money, it is a far lesser evil than the time and cost it will take to repair these issues in the future, once the project has proven itself inefficient and/or detrimental to the organization.
Another key factor not to be overlooked in effective project development is communication. This cannot be stressed enough. In order for any project to be carried out successfully, all those employees working on the project must be in constant communication with one another, sharing ideas and information, problems, and concerns. This allows for a pooling of information that will help guide the overall progress of a project, streamlining its development and testing in order to ensure a successful outcome.
About the Author
Scott Cox is a writer for Conselium Executive Search.
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