You have to know what you are trying to do.
This seems obvious, but lack of clarity in the early stages of a project is very common and causes many problems. Many projects start up with vague or ill defined ideas of what they want to achieve. If you hope to deliver a successful project in a finite amount of time you need to determine the final state your product must achieve, you need to set yourself a concrete goal.
If you have an infinite amount of time you could simply try one solution after another until you hit upon the best solution for your problem. This ‘inventive’ approach to product development can give rise to spectacular and unique solutions but more often than not ends in failure or inadequate results. Also most of us don’t operate in environments where we have infinite amounts of time or resources. Most of us operate in an environment where we need to deliver a concrete in solution in a very finite period of time.
In order to do this we need a way to select the best solution from a range of possible approaches. The first and most important step in this process is defining what will actually constitute a success. Then we can evaluate all of the possibilities against our definition of success and find the best fit. Without this we’ll be shooting in the dark.
The more accurate you can be about defining your objectives, the more likely you will be to succeed.
Nick Jenkins is an IT manager with 10 years experience in software development, project management and software testing. He’s worked in various fields of IT development in Australia, Britain and the USA and occasionally he learned something along the way. Now he lives on the banks of the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia, and he publishes the odd guide to help aspiring IT professionals. Nick’s website can be found at www.nickjenkins.net.