When, How and Why
Senior managers will not usually need day to day reports on project status that you and your team need. However, you will find that your direct reports and line staff need almost constant guidance since they are carrying out the line items of your plan.
This means you need to have frequent communications with the team to handle the smaller issues that always arise. Don’t forget that the number two reason for IT project failure is “insufficient resource planning”, which is the result of overbooking IT staff.
A lack of communications between IT groups and teams often results in exactly this problem. The best way to avoid stretching staff too thin is to organize and plan the project in small steps, clearly and frequently communicating expectations and taking actions to resolve issues immediately.
The message delivered will change based on the audience. A single email copied to management, peers and staff will likely not meet the needs of the reader. Instead, consider specific messages crafted and tuned to each audience.
An important element often left out of typical IT communications is remembering that customers need communications from IT as well. Well-written communications to customers need to demonstrate how a project is improving business capabilities.
Communicating “wins” is a critically important project task on the road to ITIL success, but don’t limit the good news just to customers. Share with your managers the good job your staff is doing; and vice versa.
IT projects in general, and ITIL adoption in particular, typically does not fail for technical reasons. IT is technically proficient, but this very strength can set the stage for failure. Be wary of thinking that technology will solve the issue at hand. Remember that people use technology to carry out process. Technology is just a tool. It is seldom the complete solution.
Of course, choosing the right project and setting an appropriate scope is paramount and you cannot assume this is happening. However, assuming that IT projects are all about technology and not paying attention to the 5P’s of project management appears to be the reason for the dreadful image IT has when it comes to new projects. This means that the path to improved success is actually fairly easy—focus on basic project management skills and communications (and this includes project selection and scope.)
IT has to learn that technical skills are not enough. It’s also not enough to have a Project Management Office inside or outside of IT that “does project management to IT.” IT project management skills must be adopted and taught at all levels within IT—from executive management to line worker.
Consider assigning your PMO a project to disseminate basic project management training to all IT staff at all levels. Increase your IT project and ITIL success by take a page from journalism and combining the age old “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How” of communications with basic project management skills.
Hank Marquis is director of IT Service Management Consulting at Enterprise Management Associates based in Boulder, Colo. Marquis has more than 25 years of hands-on experience in IT operations, management, governance and operational frameworks. Visit his blog and podcasts at www.hankmarquis.info.