09th Mar2020

How to Handle Risk and Backup Services When Managing a Complex IT Project?

by James Smith

Many companies invest masses of time and money into complex IT projects. The world of business is constantly expanding as technology continues to develop, and companies need to keep up with consumer need. If businesses don’t improve their IT services, competitors will see a window to overtake, and a business could lose its credibility.

However, all complex IT projects have risks. Many IT projects are deemed unsuccessful if they are delivered late, go over budget or don’t meet the business goals. So, how should you handle risks and backup services when managing a complex IT project, if you’re not currently working with a company that provides you with business IT support services?

Communication

communication

When managing a complex IT project, it’s important to communicate effectively with your IT support team and all those involved in the project. Establishing each team member’s responsibility and the way their roles intertwine is pivotal in ensuring the smoothest possible process.

According to Robin Kermode, communications coach and founder of Zone2, colleague communication relies on three key areas:

  1. Making people feel valued;
  2. Making the work feel relevant; and
  3. Making people feel human

He stresses the importance of taking the time to establish effective communication between those working on a project and ensuring that all employees know the importance of the project, and their role within it. This might mean regular meetings where all team members can update one another on the project and anything they are concerned about, and maintaining effective communication through email. It’s important for there to be a sense of team spirit within a complex IT project, as otherwise people might be tempted to place blame on one another if things go wrong.

Be aware that your employees are valuable. Projects could be slowed down significantly if an IT professional leaves the company mid-project, so it’s important to make them feel valued.

It is also important to communicate with those in the office who aren’t involved in the project, especially if the project might affect how they work. Will certain software be unavailable for certain periods of time? Will they need to learn how to use new programs? Could they lose any files? By presenting this information clearly and openly, employees won’t need to be worried about the way the project might affect their working day.

Establish potential risks

working

With all projects in business, it’s important to determine the risks before starting the project. This means creating spreadsheets, graphs and documents that establish what could go wrong and what the solutions are. Some areas to consider include:

  • Budget
  • Resources
  • Timeframe
  • Suppliers
  • Technology

The book Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects by Tom Demarco and Timothy Lister (read it here) establishes the following five software project risks.

  1. Inherent Schedule Flaws: As software development is complex and each has a unique nature, it is difficult to estimate and schedule. They suggest getting the team more involved in planning and estimating, and aiming to get early feedback from stakeholders.
  2. Requirements Inflation: When projects progress, features that were not identified at the beginning of the project often emerge, and these threaten timelines. It is important to have someone on the team who has done this nature of complex IT project before.
  3. Employee Turnover: As previously mentioned, employees are key in handling complex IT projects. Therefore, high employee attrition can lead to delays on the project and employees need to understand the importance of the project and be involved in all communication.
  4. Specification Breakdown: When the time comes for coding and integration, it often becomes apparent that the specification is incomplete or contains conflicting requirements. A dedicated product manager should make critical trade off decisions
  5. Poor Productivity: As complex IT projects often have long project timelines, the sense of urgency to work can decline, resulting to time lost in early project stages that can’t be recaptured.

The right equipment

When taking on a complex IT project, it’s important to make sure that you have the correct equipment. Whilst sometimes the purpose of the IT project is to update equipment and online systems, businesses need to ensure that their current systems will be able to sustain the office during the upgrade.

The project manager will need to keep track of the cost of any equipment and back up services, alongside product warranties and maintenance.

The most important factor when managing a complex IT project is to ensure that all files are correctly backed up and can’t be lost. This means using a cloud computing system that stores all relevant documents in one place and can always be accessed via the internet. IT managers will know how to do this and should always be consulted whenever a grand scale project could affect the back up of work.

But how does cloud computing work?

cloud-graph

As shown in the graph, there are four types of cloud computing models: the public cloud, private cloud, community cloud and hybrid cloud.

  • Public cloud is a computing service offered by providers over the public internet, making them available to anyone who wants to use them. They can be free of charge or sold on demand, depending on the type of service the customer requires and the CPU cycles or bandwidth consumed.
  • Private cloud is where a person or company maintains their own servers and infrastructure that hosts the applications and data. The difference between the public and private cloud is essentially that, if you use private cloud, no other organisations have access to your data.
  • Community cloud is a collaborative effort where data is shared between several organisations from a specific community with common concerns. For example, financial institutions or banks might use a community cloud because the have the same requirements.
  • Hybrid cloud is used to carry out the big data operations on insensitive data in the public cloud, and the sensitive data can be kept secured on the private cloud. In essence, it’s a hybrid of both the private and public cloud.

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