Technology Project Nightmares

April 16, 2013
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From scope creep to sales creep, technology project fears that will make you scream

It’s a scary notion, beginning a new technology project. You know it’s going to hurt your budget; you think you know what you need, but then those techie people tell you something completely different; and what if something better comes along while you’re halfway through your project? Your fears are legitimate, and you’re not alone.

From scope creep to sales creep, technology project fears that will make you scream

It’s a scary notion, beginning a new technology project. You know it’s going to hurt your budget; you think you know what you need, but then those techie people tell you something completely different; and what if something better comes along while you’re halfway through your project? Your fears are legitimate, and you’re not alone.

technologyThe most common concerns we hear:

  • Hidden costs – The project will undoubtedly cost more than the initial estimate.  “It always does.”
  • Scope creep – Our last project (or several) got so far off track that we ended up having to bring another company in to clean up the mess.
  • The bait & switch – They bring in the senior guns (or sales creeps) to sell the job, and then we get stuck with the rookie they just hired to develop our critical system.
  • We know we have a problem but we don’t know the solution — so we can’t yet identify the right partner…can we?

Addressing Your Fears 

Hidden costs. Yes, technology projects are complicated and unforeseen circumstances a right of passage.  Our first piece of advice: don’t simply go with the lowest bidder, especially one that’s significantly lower than the competitors.  Chances are good they bid low to get the job and you’ll end up with change orders on your desk before the ink is dry on the initial contract.  Ask for an “all in” proposal and hammer them on the details.

Scope creep. Side by side with hidden costs walks its partner-in-crime, scope creep. Just like a fast-growing weed that takes control of your whole garden, the consequences of a project that goes out of scope can be devastating. An overly complex (and therefore unnecessary) design decision in the earliest stages of a project can end up destabilizing the entire project, and threatening your business operations. Our second piece of advice: conduct a basic risk/reward analysis on any proposed solution. What are the business risks associated with this solution, e.g., additional maintenance, training, implementation time? What are the business rewards, e.g., operational efficiencies, revenue increases, cost-savings? Don’t just chase the shiny new technology object.

The bait & switch. Insist on maturity and business qualifications throughout the team. Your company’s critical systems should never be an unsupervised playground for young talent. As discussed in an earlier article, The High Price of Selecting the Wrong IT Partner, “a substantially lower cost proposal often indicates a lack of experience and business expertise, and will likely end up costing much more in the long run. A reputable IT vendor will submit a realistic, comprehensive proposal that addresses your needs. Period.”

Who’s got the right solution? Consider only partners that ask a ton of questions then accurately capture and articulate back to you the essence of your challenge and the project in their proposal.  The more thorough they are in their efforts to understand your business (not just your immediate technology need), your goals, the ultimate technology users and your environment, the more likely they’ll be able to accurately predict the scope of the solution.

What’s your greatest fear in starting a technology project? Leave a comment below, and we’ll help you overcome these fears!

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