At its core, OA simply means ensuring your organization is performing at an optimum level. More specifically, ensuring all aspects of your organization, including business process, technology, workforce, and IT, are properly structured to meet the goals of your organization.
I often say that project management is in my DNA. For me, it’s a lifeskill; not just a profession. That bit of insight might help you understand my passion in the pursuit of excellence.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines a project as “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” Project management success is measured by the ability to deliver expected results while managing budget (money set aside for the endeavor), time (estimated time to complete the project) and scope (what must be done to produce the expected results with quality). While the project management process is considered a professional methodology, most of us operate under these same constraints in our personal endeavors as well. Hence, project management as a lifeskill.
The concept is simple and doable. Project management principles and disciplines are well-established and applicable to all types of endeavors, regardless of size and complexity. Success is obtainable. So why is project failure acceptable?
While pondering that question, here are a few statistics to consider:
- The United States economy loses $50-$150 billion per year due to failed IT projects. (Source: Gallup Business Review)
- Fewer than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year. (Source: Standish Group)
- 75% of business and IT executives believe their projects are “doomed from the start.” (Source: Geneca))
- 80% of project management executives don’t know how their projects align with their company’s business strategy. (Source: Changepoint)
A few of the most common project challenges:
- Poor Strategic Planning
- No Business / Technology Alignment
- Ineffective project sponsorship
- Insufficient requirements gathering and scope definition
- No formal Portfolio, Program and Project Management Methodology
- Lack of “Industry Best Practice” tools and processes
- Under-staffed and/or under-skilled resource pool
- Inflexible technologies
- Poor scalability
- Lack of interoperability
Some of the mysteries behind Business and Technology MIS-alignment:
- Insufficient visioning and planning
- No “B/I” Governance
- Poor communication between business and IT executives
- Lack of flexibility and collaboration
- No vendor management/oversight
So, why is project failure acceptable? It is NOT!!!
At iSeek Solutions, we understand the complexities of today's business and IT challenges. Our experts provide tools and facilitate processes you need to choose the best methodologies to meet your business and IT goals. We partner with you to:
- Visualize, articulate and plan successfully
- Manage multiple demands during times of change
- Facilitate collaboration
- Optimize resources
Recently, I served on a panel at an IT conference. The topic of the panel discussion was “Bridging the Communication Gap Between Business and Technology in the Workplace”. The panelists represented three distinct areas of the market. One panelist was VP of IT for a company in the construction industry. His IT staff is relatively small. The other panelist was SVP of Enterprise Data Services for a very large financial institution. She manages a large staff of 70+ people. Then there was me – the President of a “Boutique” Business Management Consulting firm, who works with clients of all sizes and in various industries. So as you see – the panel was very diverse, which allowed us to examine the issue from many points of view.
Of course, we covered the basics like business to technology collaboration in strategy & roadmap development, ensuring alignment and inclusion, and creating a comprehensive communication strategy. All of which the panel agreed are essential to “bridging the communication gap”.
Additionally, however, a lot of key points were made around the area of “seeking to understand”. What does that entail? Seeking to understand is simply asking questions, actively listening and clarifying answers to ensure a mutual understanding. These basic actions are referred to as “Elicitation” or “Soft” skills, which are traditionally associated with Analysts, but when it comes to successful communication, we’re all Analysts!
Let’s break this down further using a simple non-IT example, like building a new single-family housing community. Building the single-family housing community is the high-level strategic objective. Applicable parties [inclusion], collaborate to round out the strategic vision. Then the plans are communicated to participants of the project.
Let’s say you’re the architect on the project, and you’re working with a potential buyer of one of the homes to be built. Your objective is to “seek to understand” the potential buyers needs and desires for their new home. Through “elicitation”, you’ll ask the buyer a series of questions to help determine the type of house you’re architecting.
The first set of questions might include:
- What style of home – Craftsman, Ranch, Bungalow, etc.?
- Single- or multi-level?
- How many bedrooms? Bathrooms?
- Open floor plan?
- Desired square footage?
- Basement, crawl-space or slab?
After a few interviews, you, the architect should have elicited enough information to draw-up an initial plan, which is presented back to the potential buyer to ensure mutual understanding of the buyers needs and desires for their new home. “Elicitation” is an iterative process that takes place at each phase of the project to continuously maintain a mutual understanding.
The concept is the same regardless of industry, and there are many “elicitation” techniques. We “seek to understand” to define the project scope, understand the genesis of a new request, or peel back the layers to determine the root cause of an issue. We then review our findings, our understanding, with the requestor (client/stakeholder/business partner) to ensure we’re aligned and in agreement on the success criteria.
For some, “elicitation” skills come naturally, and others find it outside their comfort zone. For those of us that fall in the latter category, you’ll be thrilled to know that these skills can be learned! This whole notion of “seeking to understand” using “elicitation” or “soft” skills is such a critical component in bridging the communication gap between business and IT, that companies like Bridging the Gap have developed an entire curriculum designed to teach us to find ways around obstacles that deal with political agendas, communication, collaboration and attitudes.
Whether you’re in IT or the Business, and regardless of your role, an Analyst, Architect, Product Owner or Developer, you too are responsible for building a relationship of trust with your colleagues, on both sides of the isle, and ensuring the message being communicated is mutually understood.
Seeking to Understand. iSeek is adept at using “Elicitation”, “Soft” skills and various other approaches to facilitate customer-focused solutions and bridging the communication gap between business and technology. To find out more about our tools and techniques, subscribe to our blog and stay tuned for future insights, or call or e-mail us today!
Are you acting as a “trusted partner” by viewing your customer holistically?
Within your existing customer base, are you maximizing business opportunities?
In her book, Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy, Harvard Business School Professor Amy C. Edmondson says, “In today's complex and volatile business environment, corporations and organizations also win or lose by creating wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts. Intense competition, rampant unpredictability, and a constant need for innovation are giving rise to even greater interdependence and thus demand even greater levels of collaboration and communication than ever before. Teaming is essential to an organization's ability to respond to opportunities…”.
The phrase from Edmondson’s book that so clearly resonates with me is “corporations and organizations also win or lose by creating wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts…”
Most businesses specialize in certain spaces. Affording us the opportunity to perfect our craft and be leaders in that space. However, none of us are “all things to all clients”. Most of us, however, have former colleagues or reputable network acquaintances or service providers that also specialize in certain spaces, different than our own. A teaming agreement or partnership with a reputable colleague or small business entity broadens your reach, increases opportunities within your existing customer base and “creates wholes that are greater than the sum of your parts”.
Embrace the Holistic Approach. It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN proposition for you, your client and your colleague(s). iSeek has had very effective partnerships that broaden our reach, yet remain consistent with our guiding principal of customer-focused solutions. To find out more about our holistic approach, subscribe to our blog and stay tuned for future insights, or call or e-mail us today!
Business challenges, particularly those involving change, can cripple even the most successful enterprise. In an effort to make smart decisions, many CEOs and boards of directors grapple with how to navigate complex situations. One approach in particular is growing in popularity: hiring professional interim executives – often through management consulting firms – to bridge existing gaps in knowledge, skills, and leadership.
Today’s business challenges aren’t getting any easier. Markets are complicated, competition is fierce, and technology is constantly changing. An expert management consultant can help you navigate rough waters, but how do you find the right one for your needs? Here are some basic traits to look for in your ideal match.
Business imperatives can become urgent quickly, tempting decision-makers to chase the latest hardware or software they believe will accelerate their success. However, after years of piecing together disparate devices and applications, savvy executives understand that adding technology for its own sake will not grow your organization. When deployed haphazardly, even the latest technical innovations can impede your progress.
The bottom line is, you cannot meet business goals through technology alone. Instead, you need a carefully planned strategy that aligns the right technology with your business goals and objectives. In an era of increasing competition, strained budgets, and high customer expectations, aligning strategy and technology is vital to today’s enterprise.