Projects pan out when priorities kick in

There is no one size fits all approach for IT managers to ensure they get the most value from complex application development projects such as ERP or ERM. The smartest projects work on a principled approach, with the focus on core business priorities, which then drives direction and helps IT adapt to change, said industry researcher Meta Group.

Speaking at Meta Group's Asia-Pacific Metamorphosis conference this week, consultant Robert Peake said application project managers should focus on two key strategy areas. That is, managing a "context of change" on both the business and technology front, and delivering best practices in terms of project, team and skills management.

The lynchpin of a sound project was a manager who constantly checked what the highest priority of their business was, Peake said. Once they establish this, they worked towards achieving world's best practice across the whole "enterprise architecture", covering an organisation's overall business objectives, processes and IT framework for different departments, and its people and skills, he said.

"Ask yourselves what standards are accepted by the rest of the world and implement those in your development projects," he said.

"You've got to see an ROI whenever you make infrastructure improvements. For example, employ explicit methods like unit testing when testing application code or pilot tests to demonstrate successful transitions to new systems. Also, focus on customer value; collaborate with the business to ensure clarity of communication between users and IT."

Peake said the business value of the project must also be derived from its people. He advised IT managers to "start small" and choose self-selected teams for success. "The smaller the job, the more work can be managed in-house. Also, keep a register of skills and competencies to match people's skills with the business requirements and keep skills current and relevant. And always use mentors, as they provide a voice of experience" he said.

Peake added that CIOs must understand that the IT culture should be consistent with the existing business culture in order to foster productivity. "For the project officer, it's all about managing the people and not always the technology," he said.

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