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A CIO Makes A Case For Common Sense

Getting IT projects right isn't rocket science, says Dave Bent, CIO of United Stationers. It's a matter of Project Planning 101.
Getting IT projects right isn't rocket science, says Dave Bent, CIO of United Stationers. It's a matter of Project Planning 101.When I received such a heated response to my blog about the failure of (many, most, all?) IT projects to live up to expectations, I reached out to some acquaintances for their opinions on the subject. One of them was Dave Bent, a great guy and a brilliant CIO. Here's his reply:


Firstly, there is no such thing as an IT project -- there are business projects that leverage technology to enable them. Once businesses understand that fact, then they understand that there must be joint business and IT accountability to deliver against expectations. I believe that many companies are very poor at planning their projects. They fail to: a) create an appropriate documented business case, b) identify and engage the correct stakeholders and sponsors, and c) assume every event in the project will be a "home run."


Correcting these things is Project Planning 101. Once you have the correct planning approach in place you then need to tackle project execution and project post mortems. If you focus on these things, projects can be delivered on time, on budget, AND deliver against the original expectations. Outsourcing to an IT services company won't fix these issues without putting the right internal framework in place.


Lastly -- how many business projects (where there is zero IT involvement) meet expectations? Poor Project Planning and Project Management are not just IT diseases. Getting it right is fundamental to almost any major initiative that an organization undertakes. How is Boeing doing with its Dreamliner? How did Boston do with its Big Dig? Did we still expect to be in Iraq today?