It’s one of the most frustrating things in business -- you spend months planning a technology initiative, but it never gets implemented. These non-starters not only can bruise egos, they can cost organizations untold expense, damage trust in those championing projects and hurt the ability to complete other projects. Here are eight reasons why it happens:
1. Unclear goals.
If your whole team understands the underlying goals of a project, they are more likely to make decisions in alignment with what you’re trying to accomplish. As you add team members, make sure they’re on board in a way that not only tells them what to do, but also provides the “why.”
2. No buy-in.
Different parts of an organization have different reporting lines and goals. To get buy-in from other teams, look for ways that your project can be beneficial to other groups within your organization. The political capital you could end up walking away with can be huge.
3. Conflicting initiatives.
Sometimes these goals are complementary and sometimes they are at odds. To keep your initiatives from falling into a political abyss, involve others in the planning phases. And as your projects mature, look for ways to keep communication flowing, trying to keep conflicts at a minimum. After all, conflicts often mean overlapping costs, so this should help keep your costs in check as well.
Cost is a huge concern in most every organization these days. To make sure your initiatives stay within an appropriate cost structure, have a target Return On Investment (ROI) for each. A realistic ROI is often the most important aspect of a project. The ROI isn’t vaguely to “make more profits.” Instead, ROI should be represented in clear, concise and quantifiable metrics, well communicated throughout the organization, not just the stakeholders on your team.
5. Bad tactics.
No matter how good your strategy, your initiative may fail because of tactical execution issues. Often, when the proverbial rubber meets the road, the tactics might be incomplete, in the wrong order, based on bad assumptions or just end up being bad ideas. I find the best way to protect from poor tactics is to use peer review to identify potential problems.
6. The technology is the wrong fit.
Sometimes technology is too new or buggy or simply doesn’t meet the goals of the initiative. The best way to make sure your software is the right fit is to solicit as much feedback as possible. For example, if you are implementing new Customer Relationship Management software and haven’t discussed the project with sales teams then how can you be sure that the CRM is the right fit for the organization?
7. Bad project management.
Depending on the scale of a project, a good project manager will reign in many of the most critical aspects of a project, communicating change with key stakeholders. Before you start a project, decide how the project will be managed and setup milestones and a communication plan early.
Your team needs to be clear about all the things: underlying goals, project plans, who the key stakeholders are, who’s funding the project, what to do when going over budget and anything else important. This isn’t a repeat of the previous items, it’s to emphasize that if people don’t know about each aspect of the project they cannot successfully implement it.
While I’ve focused here on technology, nearly all these reasons and strategies are applicable to any new initiative being implemented across an organization. What challenges have you encountered with your new initiatives?