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How to complete an IT project in 90 days

Shubhra Rishi | July 24, 2014
They might not tell you, but your business peers think your department is too slow. Here's how to change that.

You get the idea: IT was considered slow before the financial crisis and it risks being considered even slower today.

The question is: How fast is fast? A year? Six months? How long does IT now have before it's considered a 'dawdler' by the business? Key to answering that question perhaps lies in looking at the horizon Indian businesses operate within. In the last 18 months that's shrunk. According to CIO research, a growing number of Indian companies say their business' horizons have contracted to less than six months. That means more business leaders are now making plans for the next six months--as opposed to the traditional year-long cycle. It also means that an idea only has six months to go from concept to completion--and start paying for itself. Based on that, CIOs we spoke to now say that one quarter or less is about how much time IT has to deliver business projects.

The experts agree. "Companies shouldn't take one year to deliver a project only to find out that that's not what their customers wanted. Instead, they should break a large IT project into smaller prototypes and deliver it at shorter intervals, preferably, in a calendar quarter or less," says Andy Kaufman, a project management professional and the president of the Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development based in Chicago. Kaufman helps companies improve their ability to deliver projects and lead teams.

That's easier said than done. How do you take a large project that affects multiple stakeholders and legacy systems and turn it around in 90 days or less? And then do it on a regular basis? CIOs who want to achieve that type of continuous delivery need to attack the challenges that have traditionally got in their way. You know them well: A lack of business-IT collaboration, slow software development practices, and an inability to prove ROI, which impacts IT's credibility.

Ready to get on the fast track? Here's how to get started.

IMPERATIVE: Hold Business Close

For CIOs who want to introduce a culture of speed to their organizations, there are a couple of things they must do. These include breaking down large projects into smaller, but more in-demand, products and services that can be churned out more frequently.

They also need to find ways to cut the number of concurrent projects IT handles--thereby sharpening its focus. And finally, they should ensure that the products they create satisfy both customers and the business. All of this will allow business and IT to push out prototypes faster and more frequently, thereby creating more opportunities to meet customer demands, and transforming themselves into a more agile unit.

None of that can be accomplished effectively without the co-operation, nay, the full involvement of the business.


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