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As a business analysis consulting firm, what we do is to help companies to be successful with IT project implementations. In this article, we are going to look at six mistakes companies make that leads to project failure. These are some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen and experienced in my 22 year career working for various companies as software developer and a business analyst. By avoiding these mistakes I manage to maintain a very high project success record through out my career.

1. Not doing a business case

One of the misconceptions businesses have is that a business case must be a big undertaking where you have to do a lot of work with lot of documentation. Even though in some cases this maybe true, but in most cases this does not have to be the case. A business case can also be just a document with few pages with critical information justifying the investment.

Whether it is a small investment or a large investment, you should make sure that you have identified what are the objectives you are trying to achieve, the cost of ownership, the benefits you are after, the risks, what is in scope and what is out of scope.

One advise I always give anyone is that regardless of the value of the project you must always do a business case. The decision of either it is a one-page business case or detailed multi-page comprehensive business case can be based on the overall value.

2. Not Gathering Business Requirements

Before you pick the solution, you have to have a better understanding of what you need to achieve in the business and your deliverables. This can the features and the functionalities you need within the solution that you are looking for. You don’t have to know everything here, but you should at least do a requirement gathering at a very high level to get a better understanding on what are the features and functionalities you need.

As a business analyst I always recommend people to perform a high-level requirement gathering exercise at the beginning of the project before you start your procurement process. This way you will have a clear understanding when you look for vendors in the market and easily pick the ones you want to do deep dives during procurement.

3. Cut Corners During Procurement Process

Cutting corners or taking short cuts during procurement process is a big no no. If you don’t do your procurement process right, you are going to suffer in the long run. Once implementation is done, your business has to use it. So make sure you do a good and thorough procurement process.

This is one of the common mistakes you see within small organisations as they hardly go through a proper market evaluation to find what’s in the market, what they can do, and what is the right fit for their business. In most cases these companies rush to pick solutions based on a vendor recommendation or picking the hot product in the market at the time. In certain cases, these things can work, but in my experience, you always must do a proper procurement process, and product evaluation to find the best fit for your business.

This is one of the reason why companies with business analysis capabilities do well in most cases, they perform the word required to find the right solution without taking shortcuts.

4. Wait Till End to Start Change Management.

In my experience, the earlier you start in the change management, the better. Unless you have internal change management staff companies usually wait until the launch to start change management. The downside of this is that it would take lot more time to complete the change management and would take longer to see the expected benefits. Also in my experience, unless you have dedicated business analysts leading the change management process, people tend to rush this process, especially if it is vendor led.

I strongly recommend that you start the change management process as early as possible. When you have your business teams and people who are affected by the new implementation, you have to make sure that you start identifying where are those impacted areas as soon as possible. You must look at how new system going to change your individual user’s roles? How is it going to change their responsibilities? How is it going to impact your current processes? What are the new processes you have to create? And is there any downstream impact that you need to manage?

You have to make sure you identify all those areas as early as possible. One of the things I recommend based on my experience is, that you must start change management by the time your start the project, the development, or the implementation/configuration of the project.

5. Lack of Business Stakeholder Involvement in the Project. 

We all know about IT lead projects. Certain projects have to be led by an IT. But for a project to be successful, you must have a very strong representation from the business. I always advocate that business projects must be led by the business. Unless we talk about total IT implementation, project ownership and functional ownership must be lead by the business operational teams.

Business projects that lead by IT from the beginning up until the end can carry the risk of failure once they handed over to the operational staff. In my experience this leads to lack of ownership from the business staff as the solutions are seen as IT promoted solutions. Hence having operational staff involved in IT implementations are critical to its success.Another benefit here is that most of these people who are involved in the project become the champions as once you start deploying, the rollout of the project is going to be much easier.

6. Lack of Consistant Communication

For every project, I always advocate that you must have fixed communication timelines or schedules in place as this has been one of the most common mistakes I have seen companies make.

Depending on the project, you must make sure that you have a communication plan in place and you stick to it. You also have to make sure that you must be honest when you’re communicating about project updates with these groups.

Another thing I would recommend is outside of the project stakeholder group, you also must start looking at communicating with the future users, impacted users, and others in general to build the awareness, let them know what is coming.

About Author

Dasun Premadasa is the Founder and CEO of DASCX, the premiere B2B CX consulting firm for manufacturers in Australia. With over two decades of experience including four large CX and digital transformation programs at 4 different manufacturing and automotive firms in Australia, he's one of the best business technology experts for B2B customer experience.

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