Robert Pick, Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of TMNA Services at Tokio Marine North America, shared his thoughts on innovating project management during his keynote presentation at the 2018 Chief Information Officer Leadership Forum in New York on June 19. In his presentation, “Innovation for Dinosaurs – $100 Million Enterprise Projects in the Digital Age,” Pick offered tips to help enterprise IT professionals get the most out of their projects.
Project planning and management are key factors in an enterprise project’s success. Yet IT professionals often struggle to map out a project from start to finish. In some instances, IT professionals fail to achieve their desired project results, regardless of the digital technologies they integrate into their project planning and management efforts.
Flexibility is a key tenet of successful enterprise projects. If IT professionals adapt their technologies to a project, they may be better equipped than ever before to ensure a project delivers the best-possible results. IT professionals must be willing to adapt their policies and processes as needed. That way, these professionals can modify a project to correspond to business policies and processes, or vice-versa.
“We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can do things better,” Pick stated. “We don’t have a lot of legacy processes and policies … and we try to think through our processes and policies.”
In addition, a data-driven approach to projects is paramount. If IT professionals collect and analyze data, they can keep track of a project’s progress. Then, these professionals can use the data at their disposal to drive informed decision-making.
If IT professionals approach each project as a separate entity, they can maintain an open mind about how to complete a project. As a result, IT professionals can work together and brainstorm ways to accomplish the optimal project results. “Project and program management do not scale down well, and they do not scale up well,” Pick said. “You have to really think about different categories of projects.”
Furthermore, having the necessary resources available to finish a project is essential. Resource availability often causes problems for IT professionals. But if IT professionals understand what resources they will need to complete a project, they can plan accordingly and reduce the risk of project failures.
“Resource availability is often under-recognized as a cause of project failure,” Pick noted. “You may think you have access to all of the resources you need. But in the end, it may not work out like that.”
To avoid benefits shortfalls, IT professionals must remain in constant contact with business partners and other key stakeholders. If IT professionals keep stakeholders up to date about a project, they can ensure a project matches stakeholders’ expectations. IT professionals must connect with key stakeholders consistently. Failure to do so may lead to missed communications and project errors – both of which ultimately may lead to project failures.
In addition, IT professionals must establish project initiatives and priorities and determine the best steps to finish a project without delay. With this approach, IT professionals can limit the risk of problems that may slow down or stop a project. “We need to structure, manage and plan our projects as a business,” Pick stated. “We need to treat a project like a business … and prove critical assumptions before you rely on them.”
Although IT professionals may focus exclusively on project planning and management, they must continue to prioritize a project’s benefits as well. End users must be able to see the benefits of a project; otherwise, a project may be considered a failure.
IT professionals must be willing to take a step back from a project as needed. In certain instances, projects can become overwhelming, and continuing to work on a project may do more harm than good for a business. If IT professionals stop and reconsider their options, however, they may be able to return to a project and take a fresh look at it, leading to innovative solutions and outcomes.