by CIO Staff

Good News, Bad News

Mar 15, 20022 mins

This is a classic good news, bad news project. The good news: The team was able to finish the project on time and meet project objectives?supported by the fact that it passed the security audit with flying colors. The steps leading to the success of this project included a focused project manager, involved functional managers who defined project success up front, and the creation of the project website and mascot.

But of all the positive steps taken by project manager Janet Jones, the most important was recruiting the two change agents. Christy Dillard and Anita Bettis were innovative, effective, attentive listeners as well as good collaborators. They extended their effectiveness by recruiting unofficial leaders from each department as their project champions. Unfortunately, far too many project managers overlook the simple fact that any project by definition changes the way people do their work. In my experience, far too few project managers pay sufficient attention to the steps and effort needed to prepare the prospective end users for the change and overlook the need to recruit change agents early in the life cycle of the project.

In fact, few companies specifically employ change agents, and when they do, they are spread too thin and only act in advisory roles to the project manager instead of being full-time team members. Another key problem is that many change agents come from the IT department and end up acting as enforcers of the new process rather than as facilitators.

Now the bad news: This is a classic case of a project completed through the heroic efforts of the three team members?Jones, Dillard and Bettis. It appears that SITI and Shell do not have a well-defined repeatable project management process in place across the enterprise because none of the other Shell companies were able to pass the audit.

Far too many IT projects fail primarily because of poor project management discipline across the enterprise?a fact illustrated by the need to extend the project deadline to October for the remaining Shell companies?a 50 percent overrun from the original schedule.