IT directors must be ready to drop projects as business needs change

Beware of "scope creep" as project goals evolve

To meet shifting business needs, IT directors should be ready to stop projects which no longer make business sense and use specialist software to help them keep track of different initiatives, according to the head of the programme management office at Barclaycard.

As senior manager for the programme management office at Barclaycard's corporate division, Tony Williams is familiar with having to meet changing business demands. He told Computer Weekly his golden rules for making business and IT change run as smoothly as possible.

As business requirements may alter during the course of a change programme, Williams advises IT managers to beware of "scope creep" -when a project goes beyond its initial specification. "Any change to the programme must be controlled and agreed - maintain this clear line of sight throughout the lifecycle," he said.

One of the most difficult decisions is when to pull the plug on a project. But sometimes it is necessary to take drastic action because the business case for the project is no longer valid. "Typically, we stop about 10% of projects," said Williams.

Companies should also consider using specialist software to control business change activities, said Williams.

There is a range of software available to help IT directors manage projects, suppliers and the tricky task of aligning IT with evolving business strategy. ITM Software, for instance, offers five modules to help IT executives manage supplier relationships, technology projects and matching IT skills to the needs of the business.

Barclaycard uses Niku's Clarity software suite to keep track of changes in its business.

The software covers everything from planning through to benefits checking, said Williams.

"We implemented Niku's Clarity toolset , and it will be used in all our change delivery organisations," said Williams.

"It can help decide whether a proposed project aligns with business goals, assess the priority of one project against another and provide better visibility of progress, and so help stop projects failing. It can make resource allocation easier - you cannot allocate 1,000 people on the back of an envelope - and just managing your resources more effectively can typically save 10% of your resource costs."

In addition to documenting changes to projects, the software also allows geographically dispersed teams and third parties to share information about budgeting and management reports online. "It is like enterprise resource planning for business change, instead of business as usual," said Williams.

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