Implementing Efficient IT Projects

Our simple steps will save you time and money on development and implementation. The real challenge is making both users and coroprate execs happy.

March 26, 2004

2 Min Read
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It took some doing, but we finally convinced management that a live connection wasn't worth the development time and expense--all we had to do was dump the contents of the old system into the new one and be done with it. The catch was that we needed to get to know the old system before we could develop an efficient plan for the new one.

Here are some other lessons learned:

  • Solicit user input. If you ask only managers what they want before you design a new system, you'll end up with a system that suits only managers.

    Ask users what's on their wish lists, and do your best to incorporate the features on which there's consensus. Also find out which parts of the current system users think are overkill.

    By taking these steps, you'll save time and money on development and implementation as well as post-deployment changes. You'll also earn the respect and support of your users.

  • Maximize usability. Build in features and functionality to improve user productivity, no matter what kind of system you're upgrading. Make the most frequently used functions the simplest: Adding a name to a customer-information system, for example, should require a minimum of keystrokes. If users can't find their way around a new application, it won't be pretty.

  • Avoid surprises. Think things through before you make any promises about completion dates or equipment and labor costs. If a project will necessitate memory upgrades to desktop machines, for instance, factor the extra time and expenses into your plan.

  • Illustrate the changes, then test, test, test. Map the old system's functionality to that of the new one, review the changes with users so they know what to expect, and ask for volunteers to participate in pre-rollout testing. If they like what they see, you'll get some good buzz going for the project. If they don't, they'll provide feedback so you can make the appropriate changes.

    I once had to rework large sections of a reporting application's interface because users realized in testing that the work flow they'd suggested didn't reflect reality. Better late than never. Just be sure users understand that development time and funds are limited, and encourage them to prioritize suggested changes.

  • Go for the glory. Once the system is complete, set up a series of demonstrations for execs, in addition to any requisite training sessions for users. Spell out the benefits of the new system--including any potential to increase profits, directly or indirectly--and let executives and managers know why development went smoothly. Remember, a little PR can go a long way.Don MacVittie is a NETWORK COMPUTING contributing editor and an application engineer at WPS Resources. Write to him at [email protected].

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