Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

Over the last 18-24 months I have researched and taken on a number of Enterprise Initiatives such as Enterprise Architecture, BPM, SOA, and agile development to name a few. As I researched each topic I found tons of articles recommending to steer far away from each initiative. The common theme is that it is expensive, too hard to do, and most initiatives fall. Today I was researching Enterprise Metadata and many of the search results pointed towards doom and failure.

Why is there so much failure with these all important initiatives? I did some research and found that a large amount of normal projects fail at equally high rates. The enterprise initiatives are just more visible and usually require a significant upfront investment. So what are the common reasons for failed projects? An article at Gantthead.com provides the following list:

  • Inadequately trained and/or inexperienced project managers
  • Failure to set and manage expectations
  • Poor leadership at any and all levels
  • Failure to adequately identify, document and track requirements
  • Poor plans and planning processes
  • Poor effort estimation
  • Cultural and ethical misalignment
  • Misalignment between the project team and the business or other organization it serves
  • Inadequate or misused methods
  • Inadequate communication, including progress tracking and reporting
For enterprise initiatives I would add these:
  • Lack of strong executive sponsorship
  • Unrealistic scope ("boiling the ocean")
  • Lack of governance
So the next time you start researching a large IT initiative and you see all the negative publicity about your chances of success, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Do we have the leadership required to take on this project?
  2. Do we have enough change agents to change our culture?
  3. Will we be able to get enough funding to adequately meet our objectives?
  4. Will we get the support from the executives and/or the business?
If the answer to any of these questions is "no", then you might want to listen to the warnings from the articles. If the answers to all of these are "yes", then it all comes down to how good of a plan you put together and how well you execute the plan. Don't be risk adverse and let fear get in the way.


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