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Project Management / Case studies

Lessons in defeat

Many organisations are reinvesting in large, multimillion-dollar, long-term technology projects. Many will fail. Indeed, with some recent program failures having been made public it is timely to re-examine the causes.
Problems observed in poorly constituted programs include:

Written by Rob Mackinnon01 June 11 22:00

The cutting edge conundrum

“We want to stay on the cutting edge of our industry.” You hear that a lot in business circles, especially in IT, because we thrive on innovation … that is what IT brings to the table. It is much more exciting to describe what you do as Leading Edge, Bleeding Edge, Cutting Edge – I guess we all just love to be “Edgy”. (Besides, that “edginess” justifies our right to come to work in jeans and tee-shirts because “we’re just that cool!”)
But one of the challenges that IT departments face (besides “which Huffer Tee looks the best with my knit scarf?”), when pioneering innovative solutions for your organisation, is that often potential vendors will respond to an RFP and due diligence activities without an existing product against which to conduct traditional gap-fit analysis. But what does due diligence look like when so much is unknown? How can you increase the likelihood of success while pioneering into the land of “never been done before”?

Written by Chris Pope15 Jan. 11 22:00

Sword of Damocles hangs over all senior executives

There is a common misconception, perhaps even held by senior executives themselves, that serious mistakes go unpunished. Certainly the public perception is there’s always another well-remunerated position waiting for executive miscreants.
Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth professor of management at the prestigious Tuck School at Dartmouth College, begs to differ.

Written by Nick Smith04 May 10 22:00

Managing unplanned IT outages

Computers fail and when they do they can become one of the most costly experiences a CIO will oversee; and yet, they are also one of the most ignored, that is, until they occur.
Incident managers are the IT professionals who are given the task of restoring service in the event of an unplanned outage. Unplanned IT outages are known events that occur at unknown times. Organisations often fail to focus on what it is their incident management teams actually do to restore service and they fail to focus on the inventory of unplanned outages they handle in order to optimise the services of the former, or to understand the value of the latter.

Written by Katherine O’Callaghan, Sugumar Mariappanadar and Theda Thomas24 Jan. 10 22:00

The 'best determinant' of project success

Many factors influence project success and failure, including schedules, resources and funding. But new project management research from training company Insights Learning and Development, the Project Management Institute and a strategic execution consultant suggests that the single most important factor influencing project success is the project's link to the organisation's business strategy and the project manager's understanding of how the project supports the business strategy.
In other words, the tighter a project's connection to the business strategy, the smoother it will progress. Conversely, the more tenuous the link between the project and strategy, the more challenges the project will encounter.

Written by Meridith Levinson17 Nov. 09 22:00

Points of difference

Innovation is an important adjunct of a competitive market position; indeed it could be seen as necessary to effective competition. If you compete merely by doing what has been done before, then almost by definition you are catching up.
To take a truly novel step, something that offers the customer a facility they cannot get from any competitor, is a powerful and longer-lasting competitive weapon.

Written by Stephen Bell09 Nov. 09 22:00

How to succeed in the toughest job in IT

Project managers might just have the toughest job in IT, responsible as they are for ensuring that high-stakes IT projects are completed on time and on budget. According to a new report from Forrester Research, the project manager's role is getting even more demanding and difficult to fill.
It's no longer enough for project managers to possess good people skills and to be fluent in project management best practices, tools and methodologies. To succeed - and get hired - today, project managers need enhanced leadership skills; they need to be flexible and focused on business value; and they increasingly need to be familiar with Agile software development methodologies, writes Forrester Analyst Mary Gerush in Define, Hire and Develop Your Next Generation Project Managers. A former IT project manager herself, Gerush and colleagues interviewed IT professionals and project management experts from a variety of organisations, including Chevron, Microsoft and LiquidPlanner, for the report.

Written by Meridith Levinson21 Oct. 09 22:00

Pray you won’t need his services

Jason Coyne describes his unusual job in many ways: Marriage counselor. The Equaliser. Relationship guru. Project conscience. Resolution manager. The Fixer.
To those groups toiling away on your garden-variety technology implementation - the vendor, the customer, the integrator - Coyne's arrival on-site usually means one thing: A big tech project is in trouble. And Coyne's job as an objective third party is to either "kill or cure" those projects that have gone awry. (Coyne is sort of like a UK version of Winston Wolf, Harvey Keitel's industrious character from Pulp Fiction: "I'm Winston Wolf. I solve problems.")

Written by Thomas Wailgum20 Oct. 09 22:00

A new, hybrid pricing model for offshoring

As IT leaders focus on cutting costs, they continue to put pricing pressure on offshore outsourcers. Since suppliers who respond with repeated price cuts could be slitting their own throats, some are offering up new pricing models to soothe the savage customer.
Bangalore-based IT service provider MindTree is talking up its new "hybrid" pricing for offshore IT services.

Written by Stephanie Overby16 Sept. 09 22:00

The era of change

"It is important for you to see what others can’t see.” This insight from Graham Lowe, the renowned Kiwi rugby coach, definitely hit the mark for CIOs in these trying, uncertain times.
CIOs are tasked to check out and harness tools, implement strategies and work across the enterprise to help them not just survive, but thrive through the economic downturn.

Written by Stephen Bell and Divina Paredes16 Aug. 09 22:00

Become a ‘how’ person

If you believe the key messages from this year's Project Management Institute’s (PMI’s) major conference, project managers are best placed to become leaders in the new economy.
The 400 delegates at the PMI Global Congress 2009 Asia Pacific heard that “project-based organisations are the way to the future” but many organisations have difficulty realising this.

Written by Ross O. Storey, Kristin Burnham and Thomas Hoffman05 Aug. 09 22:00

Scan and print your way to savings

At first glance, UPS' warehouse workers might be mistaken for gun-toting cyborgs out of a dystopian movie. But a closer look at the stainless steel devices wrapped around employees' forearms reveal a hi-tech contraption that scans barcodes and shoots bright magenta ink - not laser beams.
"Initially, the device looks a teeny bit scary," admits Cathy Callagee, UPS vice president of information services. Fortunately, aesthetic appeal was the least of the company's goals when it teamed up with Hewlett-Packard to design a handheld device capable of scanning barcodes and printing paperless labels on packages in one fell swoop. Three years of brainstorming and countless prototypes later, the result is the HP Handheld sp400 All-in-One--a device that combines a 2-D barcode imager, inkjet printer and wireless communication. The project earned UPS a 2009 CIO 100 award in the US.

Written by Cindy Waxer28 July 09 22:00

Lessons for consolidating datacentres at merger time

Three healthcare organisations in Hawaii looked at banding together in 2001 to cut administrative costs and deliver care more cheaply. Merging the constituent four hospitals, 18 clinics and three datacentres, however, did not go smoothly, at least at first.
The new organisation, Hawaii Pacific Health, failed to save money and actually increased the costs of insurance reimbursements, because each of the three healthcare groups continued to handle their information in their own way, says Steve Robertson, executive vice president and CIO for Hawaii Pacific Health.

Written by Robert Lemos26 July 09 22:00

Obstacle course

Getting technology projects past their C-suite colleagues is an uphill task for chief information officers (CIOs). It is often hardly about the technology and mostly about the bottom line.
The main hurdle in selling information technology (IT) projects to chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs) is demonstrating the return on investment (ROI).

Written by Carol Ko and Avantikumar08 July 09 22:00

The right approach

Bad project management can kill a company. One day a company comes in
with a bang and the next day it goes with a poof. In times like these,

Written by Rabia Garib11 March 09 22:00

How to know a software development project is doomed

Despite all our efforts to make every software development project a success, some are cursed from the very start. Here are 26 early warning signs-all, alas, real-world experiences - that an enterprise software development project is headed for a death march.

Written by Esther Schindler10 Dec. 08 22:00

Extreme makeover: The CIA edition

Nearly three years into his term as the CIO of the CIA, one of Al Tarasiuk’s most critical duties has been to infuse more corporate-like thinking into the CIA’s IT operations and staff. “My boss,” Tarasiuk says of CIA Director General Michael Hayden, “asked me to establish ‘corporate everything’ for IT — to the [fullest] extent possible”.
But then, just as easily as Tarasiuk discusses agile development and SOA and IT governance — typical CIO stuff — he solemnly switches to the harsh realities of his particular line of business. When asked about information-sharing failures surrounding 9/11, he chafes a little. “I won’t comment on how we got to 9/11,” he says, “but I can comment on how we’ve improved since that.”

Written by Wailgum06 Oct. 08 22:00

How to get exec buy-in for app development projects

The software development department might envision a marvelous solution to the company's IT or business need, but the technology goal can't be achieved unless the Big Boss commits to the new strategy. How do you get there-and ensure that the user need really is filled? The key, say three former CIOs, is accurate business process requirements, a common language for the business and IT to communicate, and executive steering.

Written by Esther Schindler28 Sept. 08 22:00

Building IT advantage

After more than 30 years running information systems in areas as diverse as retail and pharmacy, Peter Hatten decided it was time for a new challenge. And boy, did he pick a doozie.
When he took on the role of chief information officer at building and construction company Abigroup, he was determined to transform the company's information technology infrastructure into a single, streamlined service. However, other challenges soon became apparent.

Written by Jeanne-Vida Douglas04 Aug. 08 22:00

Creating software innovation

How does a business embark on software innovation? It’s all about people and process, argues Mark Pascall, director of 3months, a Wellington-based web software development and Agile consulting company. He says it’s vital that management understands the risks and rewards of being Agile and here he discusses why:
The people factor

Written by CIO New Zealand staff07 July 08 22:00