The correct philosophies to drive success seem to be missing in companies;
- Encourage mistakes to be reported
A place to look to is hospitals, here they cant afford to make mistakes, so the management team is actively encouraged to highlight mistakes, so they can be resolved. This is not the case in IT and mistakes are often frowned upon, so they are buried and the root cause never resolved.
- Listen to estimates
By way of an analogy: If I am a respected construction firm, and was to build you a motorway bridge and I told you that it would cost $100M and take 2 years, would you then cut the budget and tell me to still deliver on time?
This happens all the time in IT and it is both IT and the business' fault. IT needs to stand up more and the business needs to trust IT more. It is totally a cost quality time relationship.
- Reward on successful ROI
Projects should not be measured on delivery date, but many months, possibly years after delivery. And also based on alignment to the business strategy. Too often it is just “on time and on budget”. I haven’t heard a PM say to me that they delivered “on Quality” [fit for purpose]
- Spending effort up front saves a lot of time
This is possibly a repeat on the quality theme, but Henry Ford had it right, put the quality checks up front, don’t check a finished car at the end of a production line for a bent chassis. It is not just checking, but ensuring that shortcuts aren’t taken at the start of a project, again to shrink time and cost.
- Break large projects up
IT projects are complicated and the business changes rapidly. Ensure that projects are broken into smaller parts so that business change can be built in as the project evolves, and that users can get a handle on what they have requested. A business does not stand still while a project is being delivered.
- Don’t do too much at once
Keep focussed on the task at hand and put more energy in to doing a few things very well than many poorly.
- Reward staff appropriately to get the right behaviour, e.g. quality, time and cost, not just time and cost.
How many times have you heard about a project on (or off) time and budget? What about quality?
- Keep the authority-responsibility-capability triangle balanced when assigning large tasks to people and teams. Success comes from the lowest denominator of these.
This is a great tool to get the best out of people. It works best once you have found the lowest common denominator, e.g. if a person has low authority, then you can only expect low responsibility and capability.