OPINION

A new approach to ICT

Having technology that isn’t fit for purpose is a common issue

In Summary
  • For an ICT project to be successful: It’s delivered on time, its cost doesn’t exceed its budget and it works as designed.

  • Starting with a representative group of users, and tasking them to write the brief for a new ICT system, is a good way to begin the journey.
A man and a woman share a computer at work
A man and a woman share a computer at work
Image: PEXELS

According to a recent report from the Project Management Institute 14% of ICT projects fail. However, that number only represents the total failures. Of the projects that didn’t fail outright, 31% didn’t meet their goals, 43% exceeded their initial budgets, and 49% were late. Does that sound familiar?

The PMI suggests six parameters to be met if an ICT project is to be successful:

  1. It’s delivered on time.

  2. Its cost doesn’t exceed its budget.

  3. It works as designed.

  4. People use it.

  5. The people who funded the project are happy with it.

  6. It meets the goals that drove the project.

Even for a non-IT person, these would pose a complex challenge. Yet very often it’s one that IT teams have to overcome using only the talent available in their own department. In the world of modern business that’s as limiting as leaving marketing to the Marketing Department. It reduces your chances of getting a really good solution.

In culture transformation programmes, we deliberately form multi-disciplinary teams to tackle big change actions that would normally sit in departmental silos. Naturally this requires careful preparation. We look carefully for team members who demonstrate the right attitude. Younger people, drawn from the third or fourth generation currently active in the modern workforce. People who are able to think creatively, to influence others and to put pressure on senior management to help them to make progress. This is a complete reversal of normal organisational behaviour, so it’s more unnerving for seniors to witness than for juniors to participate in. Fortunately, in Africa we have just as many Millennials and Generation Z employees as anywhere else in the world. So we are not disadvantaged, providing we understand that what motivates these younger people is making stuff happen and being recognised for it.

Having technology that isn’t fit for purpose is a common issue. Having people who don’t know how to use the technology you already have seems to be a bigger one. This suggests that many historic projects have been deemed closed once the chosen system has been deployed. Yes, there will have been training - but often the budget for that suffers as the technology costs run away. And relatively few organisations go on to invest in ICT training for new employees that takes into account learnings from the first cohort of users. Instead newbies get the initial training that everyone else got.

Starting with a representative group of users, and tasking them to write the brief for a new ICT system, is a good way to begin the journey. And your IT people will appreciate the help.

Chris Harrison leads The Brand Inside in Africa

www.thebrandinsideafrica.com