In these times of sensible spending, before any new IT project gets the green light, the true value of the project needs to be proven to the board, says Paul Tarttelin.
The challenge for IT directors, therefore, now lies in proving the value of new solutions. One way to demonstrate this is by running a thorough pilot project to establish not just initial costs and total cost of ownership, but the overall business impact.
Enterprises can derive great value from IT pilots, with the key benefits being uncovering potential problems and reducing risk.
Piloting does not just highlight risks of a new solution, it shows whether the project is worth implementing in the first place, as long as the pilot is part of an overall methodology for deploying solutions. This includes evaluating overall business goals; gathering detailed technical requirements; analysing data to develop strategic and tactical recommendations in an assessment report; designing a solution and conducting a cost-benefit analysis.
Having established whether a solution will deliver real business benefits and be in line with business goals, the solution can be developed to at least a prototype level and piloted.
So, what makes a successful pilot project?
Pilots need to be simulations of solutions run in controlled environments. It is important to evaluate how a solution will perform looking at a range of factors including reliability, scalability, performance and cost.
Pilots also give IT directors the opportunity to quickly and efficiently redesign a new solution, making minor changes that can have a major impact on how the overall solution performs.
Many companies successfully run pilot projects, extract results and then put them away while the solution is deployed. But these results should be used as performance measurement tools throughout the actual implementation of a solution.
Thorough piloting will highlight the success factors for a long-term project and, when comparing these with actual performance, IT teams can evaluate how they are doing and show the board exactly what they are getting for their money.
If piloting is carried out strategically then it doesn't just dramatically increase the likelihood of a project's success, it can mean projects will get off the ground in the first place.
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Paul Tarttelin is practice leader (EMEA) at Intel Solution Services