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When IT Projects Get in the Way of Business Transformation
Kevin Sequeira

IT projects are initiated when business identifies a need to change or improve their processes. Many process improvement or business transformation initiatives have an IT component. A company I worked with recently that was looking for an IT solution to help them drive improvements in their global procurement group. The key driver was a need to make operations more efficient to support aggressive business growth objectives. Essentially this was a business transformation project. The IT component in this case was a key part of the success of the project. The IT project would deliver a more effective transaction system for procurement and better information for decision making.

Given the potential benefits to the business of these projects, it is not hard to get business support and sponsorship, as well as engagement of resources from the business side. However, expectations are normally high, and a clear understanding by the business of the rigor and methodology around IT projects is not always understood. The implementation of an enterprise IT system of this scale needs to follow a methodology that ensures that the rest of the systems are not impacted, and that good IT and project governance is followed.

So what happens when the requirements imposed by good IT governance slow down the delivery of the benefits of the business transformation project? Furthermore, how often do we see IT procedures and policies used in the name of good IT governance, that do not make sense from a business point of view? Does project methodology constrain business process improvement?

Good project governance around IT projects reduce risk. At the same time, they transfer some of the ‘ownership’ of the solution from the business to IT; reduce the level of engagement of business; and extend project timelines and cost. Balancing business expectations with IT governance is a challenge.

Here are some of the key project aspects that we addressed to tackle this challenge on our project.

  • Employed an iterative project approach. This ensures that small successes can be delivered to the business, and subsequent work can build on each project deliverable.
  • Clear communications and business engagement. This manages expectations realistically, as well as ensures that project team stays close to business needs.

  • Well defined and communicated project milestones supported by a well maintained project plan.

  • Strong functional team leads who understand business processes and requirements; the technologies being deployed; and good IT governance, methodologies and tools.

Kevin Sequeira is a Product Manager a Tenrox, the leading workflow-driven project management and professional services automation solution.

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