Portillo advises IT managers and suppliers on project failures

IT managers who fail to deliver projects should take more responsibility for their actions and must be willing to learn from their mistakes if they are to become better leaders, according to a keynote speech delivered at the IT Director’s Forum.

IT managers who fail to deliver projects should take more responsibility for their actions and must be willing to learn from their mistakes if they are to become better leaders, Michael Portillo told the IT Directors' Forum.

The former party politician and cabinet minister, today addressed the crowd of senior IT decision-makers and suppliers and drew on his experience in politics to provide insight on how to deal with failures in IT projects.

Portillo said that managers should not look towards finding someone else to blame as a first resort when projects fail, as this will make them enemies quickly and would dissolve relationships within the team.

“It comes down to your attitude and your approach after the event. There must be a willingness to learn from failures on the part of the manager - to look at themselves and their actions objectively,” he said.

Portillo warned IT suppliers against the arrogance of overselling. He said that overconfidence in the lead up to a project going live was often the cause of failure, and that managing expectations throughout their relationship with the client was essential.

“Clients understand failures can occur, but they expect a high level of response from their suppliers when it does.”

By using this approach, customers might still maintain faith in suppliers who fail, because of the level of care and diligence they exhibit. Relationships in IT contracts are the same as they are in politics and are built on the dignity of approach to failure, he said.

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