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Why IT projects go wrong (and how to recover them)

IT projects have an astonishingly high failure rate. PM Solutions found that 18% of initiatives failed outright, while a further 25% are in imminent danger of collapsing.

But as digital transformation moves further up the corporate agenda, businesses simply cannot afford for their IT projects to fail. So what are the challenges faced – and what can be done about them?

Moving email to the Cloud

Hosted email is often at the core of Cloud adoption; if the corporate email server can be outsourced, administrative overheads (and CTO stress levels) can decrease significantly.

Incredibly simple in theory, the migration project quickly becomes a nightmare. Legacy systems like Lotus Notes or outdated versions of Exchange can present a significant technical challenge, converting databases and content into current formats.

There is also the sheer volume of data to be transferred offsite. Many (most?) users treat their email account as an extension of their file store, hoarding gigabytes of outdated messages “just in case”. This in itself can be a showstopper; how much of that data no longer satisfies the GDPR rules on fair processing for instance?

Email systems need to be cleaned and sanitised before migration. And all these operations must be completed without affecting email availability. Suddenly the stress of keeping the existing system in place looks very attractive.

The great ERP challenge

ERP projects are notoriously unlikely to succeed. In fact, Gartner once claimed that 90% of all ERP projects would fail by 2018.

The inherent complexity of a major ERP project significantly increases the risk of failure – especially if businesses approach the project with a lift-n-shift mentality. Simply replicating the existing system in a hosted environment does nothing but move the same operational problems into the Cloud.

Little surprise then that 38% of Cloud ERP adopters report failings in terms of pricing and performance, according to research from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). By treating Cloud ERP purely as a technical challenge, they miss the critical importance of people and processes to the ongoing success of the platform.

How to bring IT projects back from the brink

Digital transformation is never just about migrating to the Cloud. A successful IT project relies on people, processes and technology. But you may also benefit from the assistance of an experienced third party.

  1. “Buy” experience

Complaints about spiralling costs, lower than expected performance and impaired scalability are often down to experience. If your business does not have access to suitably skilled Cloud engineers, the chances of project failure significantly increase.

The solution? Buy in the experience you need. In an ideal world, your IT team has an unlimited budget to hire as many experts as they need – but you don’t so you can’t. You must ensure that sufficient budget is set aside to hire experience for the duration of the project – and to allow your IT team to learn from the consultants.

  1. Choose your partners carefully

The EMA report makes it clear that businesses are failing to realise the full value of their Cloud investments because they do not have the necessary partnerships in place. The truth is that there is no such thing as “just” an IT project anymore, so traditional do-it-yourself approaches often will not work.

Choosing the right partner is a liberating experience. Their team can help to reduce the administrative overheads on your in-house IT team for instance. They will also help to fill the skills and experience gap mentioned above. And having overseen many successful ERP deployments and migrations, your ideal partner will help you avoid the pitfalls that are all too common.

  1. Don’t leave it too long

If you have an IT project that has run into problems, you must act quickly. The longer a project continues in the wrong direction, the more likely that recovery becomes impossible.

The cost and embarrassment of seeking third party assistance to recover a project is nothing in comparison to an outright failure. But as before, make sure you choose the right partner or you will simply accelerate towards disaster.

For more help and advice on successful Cloud adoption – including email migration and ERP deployment, please get in touch.

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