Tired of failed IT project tales? And don't want to see more reports of catastrophe and CHAOS from the technology analysts?
Even novelists spread the prejudice that IT project means doom. A trader in the fine, recent novel, Capital, by John Lanchester, comments:
"Everybody in business knows that everything to do with new software is a guaranteed nightmare."
But maybe there's a simple (and cheap) solution to reducing the risk of failure in IT projects and puncturing the all-IT-projects-fail prejudice.
It's a checklist. Read on to find out the 59 ways a checklist will help you make good decisions that produce safe and successful IT projects.
Effective business case analysis: ways a checklist helps
- 93% prefer. Medical practitioners were surveyed: "if you were having an operation, would you want a checklist to be used?" A full 93 per cent said yes. Safe to say a similar proportion of people doing IT due diligence would prefer use of a checklist too.
- Career protection. Hope is not a strategy. An IT due diligence checklist helps you determines the likelihood your project will achieve the outcomes you promised your boss.
- Feasibility. Tests whether a project is realistic and represents good value for money.
- Assumptions. Rotten assumptions lurk underneath too many projects. Air any big assumptions during your business case analysis, so, they don't sour your project later.
- Memory aid. A business case checklist lays down the minimum steps required -- so, you don't forget them.
- Easier. Boiling all the thinking and best practices into a concise checklist smooths and simplifies decisions.
- Synthesis. Blends findings on multiple criteria into an actionable, overall conclusion.
- Transparency. Reveals how things are decided and the principles applied.
- Comprehensive. Checklists bring a systematic and comprehensive approach to decisions, with less subjectivity.
- Objectivity. Decide on the signal, not the loudest noise maker.
- Fact and fiction. A business case checklist tests whether the content is accurate and based on facts, not persuasive fictions.
- Friends with funds. Shows funders that your business case analysis included a diligent review of what your project sets out to do and the resources you need.
- Blow ups. Checklists offer a powerful precaution against working harder and harder to clean up problems. Catch blow ups before they occur.
- Risk lessons. Evolve your IT due diligence checklist as you accumulate real-life risk failures and successes.
- Science. Encourages a scientific approach by always asking the question: What's the best way to solve this problem?
- Dead end. "There is no other choice. When we look closely, we recognize the same balls being dropped over and over, even by those of great ability and determination. We know the patterns. We see the costs. It's time to try something else. Try a checklist." Atul Gawande in The Checklist Manifesto.
IT due diligence: ways a checklist helps
- Complete. Covers the essentials and ensures no serious omissions.
- Catastrophes. Mitigates against pilot errors, including project "pilots". And big projects fail more often.
- Anxiety. An IT due diligence checklist reassures project stakeholders that the project will succeed.
- Rorschach. The Rorschach effect is the tendency to see what one wants to see in a mass of data.
- Minimum. Establishes a higher standard of baseline performance and makes the minimum, expected steps explicit.
- Standards. Opportunity to create a standard for business case analysis and build a repeatable, consistent process.
- "Cocaine brain." Neuroscientists have found that the prospect of making money stimulates the same primitive reward circuits in the brain that cocaine does.
- Reliability. Codify understanding into short, robust checklists. Use them to make reliable management of complexity a routine.
- Halos. A business case checklist encourages considering each dimension of a project or product equally and reduces the sway of highly valued parts or features -- halos.
- Heroes. Reduce the need for heroic execution with a measured attitude and a systematic process.
- Reviews. Makes project reviews easier.
- Orchestration. Put tasks in the right sequence.
- Buildings. The annual failure rate for buildings is around 0.00002%. Software is another kind of construction industry. Surely, IT can do better?
- Implementation. A checklist can verify your project is implemented as you planned.
Business case analysis done efficiently: ways a checklist helps
- Dead documents. Checklists are short, focused, and don't waste paper. Nobody reads two-hundred-page guideline books.
- Agile and lean. Encourages the right action, right decision, at the right time -- all without wasted effort.
- Distilled wisdom. Condenses large quantities of knowledge.
- Priorities. Identifies which aspects of performance are most important. Helps you focus on the big, important stuff.
- Essentials. An IT due diligence checklist lays out the minimum steps required to complete the process efficiently.
- Right things. A thousand ways for things to go wrong, but a checklist isolates the few things to get right.
- Stupid stuff. Don't miss the stupid stuff, let a checklist handle the basics, while you focus on the hard stuff.
- Repetition. Avoid duplication and repetition.
Collaborative IT due diligence: ways a checklist helps
- One source. A checklist provides a common understanding that's useful for all audiences.
- Silos. Provides a communication tool for specialists from multiple disciplines and overcomes the challenges of specialization.
- Communication. Clarity comes from the brevity and rigor of a checklist.
- Danger. Mitigates the "not my problem" syndrome.
- Coordinate. Pulls the scores of people doing thousands of steps and tasks.
- Reality. An IT due diligence checklist helps project participants get reality rather than wishful thinking.
- Philosophy. Tells everybody on the project that you have a philosophy of evidence-based management, milestone achievement, and economic results.
- Dashboard. A business case checklist becomes the equivalent of a dashboard for the project manager -- a steering wheel and a few, critical gauges.
Business case analysis simplified: ways a checklist helps
- Complexity. Lets ordinary people do the enormously complex. The average ICU patient requires 178 actions each day. Technology projects often require a similar variety of issues.
- Change, A checklist simplifies the process of change.
- Evolution. Easy to evolve and incorporate new discoveries into daily practice with an IT due diligence checklist.
- Economy. Boils a huge amount of specific knowledge in an economical format.
- Balance. A checklist strikes the right balance between ease of use and usefulness.
- Succinct. Contains no superfluous criteria.
- Cookbook. Creates a step-by-step business case analysis and approach to delivering a successful project.
- Elegance. Light design of a checklist means users don't consider it burdensome.
- Reductionist. Breaks complex challenges into simpler problems.
- Tweak. Easy to refine checklists fast with small changes.
- Shorthand. Common use of checklists is assessing the overall merit, worth, or importance of something.
- Knowledge. Simplicity and usability of checklists accelerates adoption of new knowledge.
- Time. With an IT due diligence checklist, you exchange a little upfront time for far less project time overall.
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