Many enterprise sized IT projects have a high rate of failure. I’ve seen reports suggesting that the failure rate can range anywhere from 60-80%.
In my role as a consultant, one of the critical elements of reviewing a Value Added Resellers (VAR) Request for Proposal (RFP) is validating client references. When conducting reference checks we routinely discover that many of the features VARs promised and sold were either partially implemented or not implemented at all. As a result, most organizations aren’t fully leveraging their investment in these unified communication systems.
There are many factors that can cause the failure of a unified communication project. The factors listed below are the 7 common causes that I have seen:
1. Inadequate resource allocation
Not having the right number of resources, skill and/or too many competing projects.
2. Reliance on a VAR to project manage the entire project
The purpose of the VAR’s project manager is to manage the VAR’s resources not to manage the client’s resources. As a result, the client doesn’t have adequate resources and leadership to successfully implement the system.
3. Lack of communication between the IT department and business stakeholders
Ineffective communication with executives and business units regarding the benefits, complexity, potential obstacles and proper timelines can threaten the success of a UC project in a variety of ways.
4. Not conducting a proper project pilot
I routinely find both the VARs and the clients minimize the importance of conducting a pilot (a test of the system applications to identify any pitfalls and adjustments that need to be considered prior to the implementation of the entire system).
5. Ineffective decision making
UC projects are more heavily weighted towards software elements than physical hardware components, therefore these projects are riddled with software integration challenges. IT must be prepared to make numerous adjustments from a functionality and cost perceptive. As a result, strong leadership is required to help the organizations staff to prepare for roadblocks that will occur and that need to be adjusted in a nimble and confident manner.
6. Definition of project success was not defined
When engaged to prepare an RFP, I uncover the key business objectives and then align them to the technology. Once the technology and vendor has been selected, it is critical to revisit the key business objectives and obtain agreement on how to measure progress. Typically, when the contract has been awarded everyone just jumps in without establishing key business objectives. Without these goals clearly established up front, the key benefits originally identified during the RFP stage can be forgotten at the implementation phase because of the many other competing elements.
7. Ineffective end-user training
Too often the UC project is viewed as a simple telephone replacement project and there is this belief that everyone knows how to use a phone. Unified Communication products are capable of doing more than a simple phone can. As a result, it is essential that the end-user is trained in using the features and applications of the UC product. A lack of effective end-user training results in lower adoption rates of features and applications; this in turn will reduce the expected benefits of operational efficiencies gained from using UC solutions.
In future blog posts I will focus on how to avoid these common pitfalls to ensure that your project is a success.