“There are no IT projects, only business projects,” is the frequent imperative of many CIOs and IT leaders. However, every IT organization faces the need to implement changes that have little to no business impact. The question is how do you manage such a project.
The answer is as cheap and as fast as you can.
The return on a non-business project is measured best by minimizing the duration of business disruptions.
One of weakness of many IT organizations is that they have one approach to managing projects based on managing business projects. However at least 1/3 to ½ of the project work in IT is not business related. Technical upgrades, enhancements, swapping out infrastructure are all in important but they are not business projects.
Trying to manage a non-business project using a business project methodology has led organizations to blend project scope, bundling some business wants/needs with the core non-business work. Take your last network upgrade project to see if you did not include some odds or ends from the business or justify the project based on a more general business case.
Recognize projects for what they are – non-business but necessary to the business and manage them to their inherent value. That value includes:
- They cost as little as possible for a given level of potential failure
- They occur as quickly as possible
- They disrupt the business as little as possible
Using this guide you can tell people that, yes we have to do an upgrade, it will improve technical performance, reduce costs etc, and we will have it completed as quickly and cheaply as possible. Show how you are managing these projects for cycle time compression (concurrent engineering, prefab development, etc). Show how your approach is specifically attuned to reduce costs to their bar minimum. Show what steps you will cut out of a non-business project, because they simply are not needed.
Following the same methodology for both business and non-business projects sends the wrong message to your people and your business peers. After all the projects must be all the same type if you are following the same project approach.
Non-business projects are vital to IT success; they can easily take too long and cost too much.
Remember the business is a jealous partner.
They see every minute you spend on a non-business project is a minute the business sees you as taking IT attention away from their needs.