April 5, 2015
How to succeed in IT projects: Benchmarking and learning from other people’s mistakes
Learning to lean into project success
There are no hard and fast rules which you can follow to ensure success in any new project you embark on. IT products, in particular, have so many moving pieces that it’s virtually impossible for one person alone to keep track and influence the progress of all of them.
The best way to improve your the chances of success in IT projects, therefore, is to take the opposite approach and learn more about how to prevent, predict and reduce the impact of errors in your activities.
Now this might sound very negative, maybe even pessimistic, to some, however one rule that you can be assured will always apply no matter the situation is Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it almost certainly will.
4 ‘must-haves’ for any project leader or manager who wants to succeed
1. Having the right goals
Getting clear on what you want achieve is vital in any project, but it cannot stop there. Once you’ve written your goals down you should work your way back to your current status and map out all the actions and decisions that you think stand between now and then.
Benchmarks are an important tool to predict the outcome and likely effort that needs to be invested at each step of the way. Moreover, you should supplement this information with negative brainstorming: thinking of all the ways that things could go wrong and planning ‘detours’ around them.
2. Having the right attitude
There isn’t a single right attitude for every IT project imaginable. Rather, attitudes are complex things that emerge from the team members’ past experiences and their expectations, the dynamics within the team and with external partners, as well as quantity and quality of the resources at hand.
Learning from other people’s mistakes is a very convenient and smart way to boost your team’s intelligence about the likely challenges ahead. You can use case studies about other people to find strengths to mimic and weaknesses to avoid in your own team, as well as a healthy way to externalise conflict by discussing similar problems affecting your team with an outsiders’ perspective.
3. Having the right tools
Speaking about quality resources, many avoidable problems that jeopardise the success of an IT project stem from the tools that the team is using. Having to use many tools at once and pulling up data from one place or the other is a huge headache, and what most professions would wish for is to have a single, unified platform that sees them through the project from beginning to end.
ReQtest is the solution we came up with to help the testing world plan, design, execute and maintain tests in the most efficient and least problematic way. Our platform is a cloud service which is always connected and always available to team members on any device, anywhere they go. We also packed ReQtest full of useful features, such as the agile board and seamless integration with other third-party tools like JIRA.
4. Having the right people
Finally, there’s really no substitute to surrounding yourself with a group of highly motivated people who believe in the project as strongly as you do. However, there will be many times where you’ll be thrown in a group of people where these qualities may be found lacking.
Communication, in many of these cases, is the key to get people on your side. Whether as a supervisor or a colleague, open and unprejudiced communication channels give the opportunity for information to flow in the group more freely and thus any clues that may portend disaster are picked up early on and acted upon.
Becoming a successful project leader or manager involves a well-defined set of skills and prerequisites like any other role in an organisation. Every person responsible for the success of an IT project has to have the four ‘must-haves’ — right goals, attitudes, tools and people — in place to effectively minimise the effects of failure and improve the chances of success.
The team at ReQtest would love to hear about your experience of dealing with the challenges of an IT project. What are the steps you take to help increase the probability of success and how does your team capture and apply the learnings from other people’s mistakes?