Death by a thousand cuts...

A familiar tale - Many stalled and failing projects, a backlog of operational tasks to complete, a lack of faith in the IT organisation and no clear way out.


Why has this happened? Usually this is down to a lack of strategic goal setting and direction from either or both the business as a whole and the IT organisation. This in turn reduces your ability to put a decision making tool in place and find a path through the brambles.


How do we fix it?

  • Question = When is a Project Management Office (PMO) not a PMO?
  • Answer = When it is a process.

It might be hard to justify a setting up and maintaining a dedicated PMO in an SME environment, but that does not mean that you can’t be good at managing tasks, projects and change.


IT&E recommend introducing lightweight change control and asking just five main questions when presented with a major task, project or change:


1 - What are we doing?

The answer could be a statement like ‘Installing a new CRM system’.


2 - Why are we doing it?

The answer could be ‘The existing tool does not provide customer facing staff with enough relevant information’. It is at this point you should be looking for some more detail, for example: Is this a training issue, might the information actually be there, but the users have not been trained correctly? Is this an implementation issue with the existing tool? Is this an issue with the data sources that the CRM reads from?


3 - When does it need to be done?

The answer could be that the Directors are off to foreign climbs on a Marketing and Sales tour in three months. It could be that the current tool does not allow compliance with a regulatory change such as GDPR


4 - How are we going to do it - What resources are needed?

Managing the project - (Business stakeholders, Project management, Management tools, Management plan).


Delivering the project - (Technical staff/Skills, Testing, Training, Post implementation, Signoff by the stakeholders, Integration into BAU and support of the product)


5 - What is going to stand in our way?

Does our team have the required managerial and technical skill set? Are those sponsoring and affected by the work bought into this change? What competing activities are there? Are the timescales realistic?


Answering these questions may be enough for your business to be able to prioritise, schedule and deliver the work that you have on your backlog, but most will want to go one level deeper and assign a score.


Scoring is useful for management reporting, maintaining the relative position of work on the backlog and for delivering good or bad news to the requester or sponsor.


The metrics used will differ from business to business, but the four in the example below usually crop up:

1 = Low, 2 = Medium, 3 = High New CRM System HR System Patch Internet connection upgrade
Client Facing? 3 1 3

Production Affecting?

2 2 3
Return On Investment? 3 3 3
In line with Strategic plan? 3 2 3
Ease of delivery/Likely to succeed?  3 1 3
Totals  14 9 15 

As you can see, there needs to be a business conversation if the CRM project is to be delivered ahead of the Internet connection upgrade.