Don’t shelve software projects - just work smarter

When budgets are tight you need to be highly selective in which IT projects to weed out and which to nurture. Those that survive the cull, have to succeed first time

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When CIO’s are mandated by their company to find ways of saving money in a credit crunch, the first port of call is often staff cutbacks, which is reasonable considering the high cost of personnel.

Then they examine their ICT infrastructure and services to identify inefficiencies. When it comes to new software development projects, these are often just put on the back burner.

However, in some cases the project is business critical or promises high levels of efficiency and cost saving, and so is not in the company’s interest to delay it. In these cases, the CIO is under greater than ever pressure to ensure the project is delivered on time, to budget and meets business requirements.

All of which is no small challenge at the best of times – even more so when there is no margin for error.

Supporting business needs

The most challenging aspect of a software project – and the one that often causes the most cost overrun – is ensuring the application accurately reflects an organisation’s business requirements.

If the delivered solution fails to live up to expectations it can involve many rounds of time-consuming reworks (sometimes taking years) leading to higher costs and delayed time-to-market, which depending on the solution may mean considerable opportunity loss. From the standpoint of conserving cash, the less reworking that is needed on a project, the better.

This can, in fact, become an out-of-control leakage of money if the contract with a supplier is ambiguous with regard to deliverables. Unless the specifications are mapped out clearly and areas of responsibility are clearly defined, most of the cost to get an application right may be shifted onto the customer with no comeback.

Step-by-step project planning

For the CIO, therefore, achieving optimum cost savings in a software build depends on thorough, disciplined upfront planning.

This involves ensuring there is a clearly defined process in place for the initial mapping out and reviewing of the project’s specifications and ensuring all internal stakeholders are in agreement.

There needs to be an established timeline for how and when in the development process things will be reviewed and who is responsible for signing off on each component. Nothing should be overlooked.

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