IT Success: Never Let The SI Take The Wheel

Large IT projects frequently fail. One of the SIs (the usual suspects) is invariably involved. So are the SIs in some way the villains – or just unlucky to find themselves, so often, innocent bystanders at the scene of the crime?

Client organizations don’t do major systems projects every year.  SIs do them for a living. So it’s natural that clients look to leverage their SI’s expertise, a tendency reinforced by the SI’s pitch: ‘We’ve done it a hundred times. Just trust us…’.

It’s understandable too that, once the SI has been selected, clients most often sigh with relief – and surrender to their comforting embrace. Willingly seduced, they allow their SI’s methodologies and tools to dictate almost every aspect of their program.

The client and the SI have conflicting agendas of course, in at least two vital areas:

Business Transformation vs IT Project. The SI is hired ultimately to deliver an IT project.  So the SI will always focus on the technology issues.  But all the evidence suggests that projects fail when they neglect business stakeholder engagement and lose sight of wider business perspectives.

Sustainability. The SI has a project focus, often strongly reinforced by contractual incentives.  The SI needs to get the system delivered so it can get paid and move on. Whereas the client has a longer term and more holistic perspective. The client is looking for sustainable improvement.

These conflicting agendas can be worked out – through an ongoing dialog driven by the client, which must retain responsibility for staying in control of the SI relationship.

But most client organizations just don’t have a collaborative framework to enable this essential dialog in any productive way. The result is that the SI usually takes the wheel.  And so the focus shifts to the IT aspects and the system go-live, significantly increasing the risk of project failure.

Straws in the wind suggest that things are changing. IT projects that I know of which have adopted Nimbus have also reduced the SI’s role.  By spending less, they seem to get more. The client avoids capture by the SI, and so can ensure the effective collaboration that prevents ‘a business transformation project enabled by IT’ degrading into ‘another IT project’ – significantly increasing the chances of sustainable success.

Essentially, the client gets to focus the SI on its core competences – and avoids the cost of man-years of consultants leading low-value process workshops in airport hotels.

Related Posts

29 Oct 2012    IT Project Failure: How Did We End Up Here?

23 Oct 2012    Mapping The Stakeholders in GBS Success

© Text Michael Gammage 2013

Avoiding IT Failure (And Bankruptcy)

News from a colleague yesterday of another SAP project using Nimbus: unforeseen delays, a shredded budget and a bewildered client. Another huge success in fact.

This European manufacturer was told by a leading analyst firm to expect to take at least 8-12 months for its Finance transformation and SAP consolidation project across 8 countries and 7 lines of business.

Opting to use Nimbus, the program team worked with stakeholders from across the European business units to agree common business processes – in blueprints that included KPI’s, policies, local variants and all the detailed requirements necessary to implement a single SAP instance.

Their results were completed, presented and approved by all the country CFOs and other CxO stakeholders in just 4 months.

Which leaves the program team with an unforeseen delay while the rest of the business scrambles to catch up (it was widely assumed that the program team would take at least 12 months to complete the blueprinting phase).

And the client’s budget is shredded.  The program timescale has been dramatically shortened, significantly reducing the consulting days required (as well as the equally expensive number of days required from internal resources).

This client’s savings are not at the expense of quality. The reverse in fact. As it happened, the client’s chosen SI implementation partner had no Nimbus expertise. So the client decided that they would not be required for the blueprinting phase. It was a gamble that paid off handsomely.  When the SI was recently re-introduced back into the project, at the completion of the blueprinting, its verdict was that this is “the best SAP blueprint we have ever seen”.

It’s another example of the power of Nimbus as a platform for effective collaboration across complex and dynamic environments (yawn…). But it’s extraordinarily relevant in a week when McKinsey has published results from a survey of 5,400 IT projects (with a combined cost over-run of $66bn).

As McKinsey notes, the keys to IT project success are not rocket science: good stakeholder management, effective teamwork and avoiding ‘the common pitfall of focussing disproportionately on technology issues’.

So a platform that provides visualization of end-to-end processes – intuitive, in their complete business context, and in the language of the business – and wrapped within a robust governance framework won’t just cut costs.  It’s the best possible insurance against a ‘black swan’ – the 17 percent of IT projects which McKinsey reckon go so bad that they can threaten the very existence of the company.

Related Posts

28 Aug 2012    The ROI On Process Visualization

24 Aug 2011    The Root Cause of IT Failures

© Text Michael Gammage 2012