5 Tips for IT Project Planning Success
Tyrone McIntosh, Tech Networks of Boston
We’ve all seen those home improvement shows where the contractor uncovers a nasty surprise halfway through the renovation. Maybe the area for an open plan kitchen involves a load-bearing wall. Maybe Thomas Edison himself installed the antique knob-and-tube electrical system.
Successfully pulling off a project as complex as home renovation – or an IT upgrade – requires serious effort in the planning stage. If you can anticipate and plan for common issues that may arise along the way, you’ll likely stay on track and not lose precious time and money correcting them. Keep these basic tips in mind as you undertake a new project.
- Set expectations
It’s critical to set expectations with the client, which means making sure they understand exactly what will be delivered and how much it will cost. At Tech Networks of Boston (TNB), our senior engineers spend time with clients, whether they are new or not, to get a solid feel for their needs and challenges. Together, they scope out the entire picture and agree upon a solution. In most cases, the same engineer will work with the client throughout the project.
- Reconcile the scope, budget, and time frame
Naturally, you must agree upon a delivery framework for each component of the project. Using their expertise, our engineers provide accurate and cost-effective budgets, based on project complexity. We double-check to ensure the TNB engineers and sales team are in sync with the stakeholders, so that everyone is in agreement.
- Anticipate what you don’t know yet
Like the home improvement shows, upgrading your technology is a process that requires patience and due diligence. Much of the work we do is related to infrastructure. Often, this means we do not have prior access to servers or data systems operated by a different provider. Engineers will leverage their past experience to make assumptions about potential issues. But it’s impossible to know every problem that will arise until the actual process begins.
- Build in a buffer
Instead of trying to correct course in the midst of the project, be sure your plan includes “what if” time. Clients usually have a suspicion about problems – in fact, the performance issues that prompted the upgrade are often related. If you hear that the hardware is old, if the client isn’t sure how recently firmware was updated, these are signs of potential trouble.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
Engineers hate having a “we found this problem” conversation in the midst of a project. If client expectations are realistic, this takes some of the sting out of the issue. But there are times when an unforeseen obstacle must be resolved before moving forward. Keeping communication lines clear is the key. Like a home improvement show, technology upgrades can be stressful. By keeping the client informed and invested in the outcome, Tech Networks of Boston will keep their project on track and ensure a robust, cost-effective solution.
Do you have any best practices for technology project planning? Have you experienced any roadblocks during a certain project? Feel free to post them in the comments!