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9 Failure Symptoms in IT Programmes


Having worked in many IT programmes, I thought I can express my thoughts on some symptoms of a not-so successful IT programmes. The objective of this article is not to be pessimistic about any approach but to provide an early indicator to take corrective action if needed. There could be many reasons for a Programme to be successful but the below are few items that can help identify whether the programme you are working is heading in the right direction or not.


1. Programme definition:

Programme is not just a collection of projects but will also share a common objective. Sometimes a bunch of projects are grouped because funding source is same or technology is same but the projects don’t share common objective. If you are working in one of these projects which is part of a programme, be aware that the programme will most likely face issues in the near future.


2. Project Scope:

The programme objective is defined usually at high level due to the sheer size of the Change that an organization wants to bring in. However, in order to meet the programme objectives, the project scope has to be clearly defined. Otherwise, there will be multiple projects running for the same objectives resulting in duplicity of work.


3. Dependency Management:

By definition all the projects must have a common objective in a Programme. This means there could be dependencies between projects. These dependencies should be managed meticulously otherwise there will be an impact to the scope, schedule and cost.


4. Resource Management:

The resource requirements should be done based on a bottom up approach. That means the project resourcing requirements should be summed up to the Programme requirement right in the beginning rather than starting the projects without a full visibility of funding and ending up stopping in the middle due to shortage of funding. This means not all the identified projects in the programme will be completed thereby impacting the programme objectives.


5. Programme Vision:

Lack of programme vision or a very vague vision statement is one of the major causes of failure. So, when you start to work in any programme, seek for the Programme Vision. This will help everyone working in the programme to work towards the Programme objectives.


6. Programme Board:

Programme board provides steer to the programme delivery. Sometimes, I have seen programmes consisting of bunch of project managers but there is no one or no board that can provide a steer during the execution phase. If you are part of these programme / projects then escalate to the appropriate authority who can help setup a board that will provide a steer on a regular basis. If your programme doesn’t have a programme board then even the projects within the programme may fail.


7. Governance and Role clarity:

When a programme team is formed, generally there will be many new project managers joining the programme team. Each one will have a different style of working. If we don’t have programme governance and role clarity of each individual is not defined clearly, then there will be chaos and ambiguity which will lead to failure.


8. PMO:

A Programme management office is required to define the meeting governance, seamless data collection mechanism and report to the Sr Stakeholders and programme board. Hence, PMO has to be setup right in the beginning of the programme.


9. Stakeholder Management:

Needless to say, stakeholder management is very important for a continued support from the Sr Managers and Sponsors of the programme.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article if you see any of these symptoms in your programme, take corrective actions so that you will be part of a Successful programme.


# The list mentioned above is not exhaustive but by and large, the above provides an idea and hence should be taken as a guideline not as a rule.


# Opinions are from a personal experience standpoint and in no way reflect the views of my current or past employers or clients or vendors. Image used was taken from a free source on the Public Internet.


I Hope you enjoyed reading this. Please share your thoughts as comments. Please tag me if you forward this for relevance.

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