Even with sound project teams in place, corporate culture and to lesser extent organizational structure will influence IT project planning and ultimately the project success. You need to be cognizant of the corporate culture, process and structure to ensure that your IT project plan does not mitigate any possible negative effects and potential failure. Corporate culture/process is a major contributor to project success, especially IT projects.
Let’s look at how the corporate culture and structure influence project success in general and IT project planning specifically.
Many organizations have documented processes in place, but they are not always followed. The usual reason for not following the corporate processes is the lack of management commitment or governance that has created a culture of noncompliance. Governance is the management function that has to do with making people follow the documented processes in place. In other words making people do what they are supposed to do. I found working with corporations whose management is engaged and interested in projects will make sure that proper processes are followed. Following a documented set of processes will increase the chances of project success. However, if management support is haphazard, the project will tend to fail.
Organizations whose management is engaged and interested in projects, especially in the planning stages will generally ensure that their project managers are properly trained. Organizations whose management is not engaged will do a poor job of training in general, including poorly trained project managers. Under trained project managers will lead to project failure.
In organizations where the culture is project friendly, the roles are typically well defined and the stakeholders know what is expected of them. As an example they will have:
- Active sponsors
- Engaged management
- Interested clients
- Fully vested project teams
Corporate culture plays a significant role in whether your organization is successful in executing projects. Organization that have difficulty completing projects successfully, can’t just blame the project managers. Corporate management needs to step up and initiate the necessary cultural changes. Until the culture changes, project managers and their projects will continue struggle to be successful. A corporate culture that favors empowering project managers who could lead effectively and management sponsorship that stands behind the project managers is one of the key success factors in creating project successes.
The organizational structure can help or hurt projects, especially IT projects that tend to touch many parts of the organization. My experience is that this is a lesser problem than a negative culture because; organizational structure is relatively easy to change. Usually the corporate structure is based on and reflected by the “organizational chart”. Some corporation change the organization chart frequently. Culture is not as easy to change, it can take years.
I have seen and worked for organization whose structure impeded the ability to share resources in a manner that aided IT project planning and therefore project success. I have worked with organizations whose project teams were also providing product support. This usually leads to a lot of thrashing as the team members move from support to project resulting in poor support work and poor project work. In these situations, it is very difficult to estimate and meet project deliverables and therefore a higher chance for failure. We had to expend a lot of energy in managing stakeholder expectations.
The organizational structure in conjunction with the culture may lead to resource hoarding. Resource hoarding is usually cultural based, but implemented through the corporate structure. When encountering these roadblocks, you need to determine if a different organizational structure would help and work towards changing that structure. However, if it would not help, it means the corporate culture is not supportive of resource sharing.
Usually a change at the “C” level management can turn an organization from resource hoarder to resource sharing or the other way around.
The Big Picture
IT projects are becoming a critical part of corporate success. Identifying the organizational changes that may be necessary to facilitate IT project planning and execution is instrumental in this success.
You can’t change a culture of mediocrity/failure, one project at a time. You need to address it in a broad and multifaceted way. If you can change the broader cultural problems to be more IT project friendly, it will reflect in a higher project success rate.
In my previous blog I wrote about the importance of “User Input” as it relates to IT project planning and success. In my upcoming blog. I will address the importance of Senior Management Support and it’s relevance to IT project planning for success.