Wednesday, November 09, 2011

How to Keep ITIL Project Momentum

Here's the quick and dirty from a consultant's perspective:

  • Establish specific and realistic goals with milestones
  • Don't get too ambitious
  • Identify project sponsors with skin in the game
  • Create awareness of project objectives
  • Identify and achieve project quick wins
  • Provide context for the project
  • Teach rather than do
Consultants, often out of frustration with organizational culture and politics, wind up completing the entire project themselves. I've seen this happen so many times. It is mostly due to the lack of leadership or clearly defined project roles and responsibilities from the client organization. Instead of providing advice and guiding a customer, the consultant will take over the detailed project tasks just to be able to complete a project and move on.

Rather than this, the consultant should play the role of advisor, providing guidance to the client throughout the project lifecycle. At times, the consultant will lead the team through various workshops and exercises as a learning tool but the consultant should never take over the project. Our jobs as consultants should be to teach the organization how to keep going long after we've left. This message should be clear from the outset of the project and should be reiterated thought the entire project.
  • Create a team of capable and willing participants
There is nothing worse than trying to move a project forward with the wrong team members. This would include team members who haven't a clue what the project is about and have nothing to contribute as well as those who are able but who resist change at every turn with constant complaints or excuses.

In short, if the project is important (as every project worth doing should be) be sure to carefully select core team members who are both willing and able to contribute to the success of the project.
  • Set regular face to face meetings with team members
With advancements in modern technology, distributed or remote project teams are becoming the norm. This allows for an organization to reduce costs and leverage the expertise of individuals at different locations around the globe. The downside, of course, is what is lost when there is little or no face to face communication. Face to face communication is essential when building project momentum. It makes it easier for team members to feed off of the energy and ideas of others.

Besides setting regular meetings, our recommendation would be that whenever possible, assemble all team members together in a room for the duration of the project phase. This facilitates idea generation and problem solving and keeps the project on track.
  • Break the project down into bite size mini projects or phases
This is important to prevent the project from seeming like never ending drudgery. If at all possible, it's also a good idea to try to replace a few of the core team members at the beginning of each new phase. This prevents burn-out and brings a fresh perspective. Have you ever tried to maintain excitement for a project that lasts more than 3 or 4 months?
  • Don't do projects that have no benefit to the organization
This is the hardest of all for consultants to follow because, after all, we're in business to make money. However, there is no way to win on a project that has no clear benefits to the organization. How do you measure success? Who determines whether the project was worthwhile? Most importantly, these types of projects are the prime candidates for loss of momentum. After a while, every loses interest because it becomes evident that there is no greater purpose. Everyone eventually realizes that it is a waste of time, money and resources.

Lastly, the consultant's reputation may be jeopardized by their involvement in a meaningless project. A consultant most valuable assest is always his/her integrity. This should not be bought and sold for any sum of money.

ITIL & IT Service Management

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