Setting standards for success

The success of any IT project can be gauged in a number of ways, from informal satisfaction through to complex metrics

Tags: Dimension DataE-Hosting DataFort ( Middle East and AfricaLamprell Dubai LLCProject managementReturn on InvestmentSAP
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Setting standards for success Return on investment increasingly needs to be demonstrated to prove the effectiveness of IT projects.
By  Keri Allan Published  May 12, 2014

Across the board CIOs are finding that projects are becoming the yardstick through which IT department success or failure is measured, meaning that it’s more important then ever for them to be able to prove project success and measure return on investment (ROI). Thirty-eight percent of CIOs in a recent IDC survey said that identifying ROI is a major business challenge.

Every business defines project success differently, using their own parameters and measurements, as needs are always different. Atul Kamat, Director Technology and Service Delivery at eHDF highlights the different measures of success for some of its customers: “For, the online shopping portal, it was important to offer good performance in peak traffic, manage hacking attacks and be secure.

“For Geotab Middle East, the company’s GPS tracking application needed to have very low latency in order to offer clients nearly live fleet data and with the fully managed services solution hosted at eHosting DataFort’s data centres in Dubai, very fast response time with minimal latency was achieved.”

Even so, there are overarching goals that most project managers will aim towards.

“The main measurement always will be that the project delivers against the business drivers that initiated the project. If the project deliverables successfully meet the business requirements and the ROI can be measured, managed and realised, then the project is successful. It all starts and ends with the business requirements,” says Mechelle Buys de Plessis, Senior Sales Manager, Dimension Data Middle East.

“Project success means different things to different people but for us it is essentially measured using a number of attributes in a given project,” notes Shumon Zaman, Vice President, Information Systems & Technology, Lamprell Plc.

“For example, before we start any project we develop a business case that outlines the business justification for wanting to undertake the project. The business case will normally highlight the current issues, the cost to the business and it would also provide an indication of any savings that a project may be able to deliver, if it is completed within time and budget, etc. If a project delivers against these parameters agreed at the start then one would declare a project to have been successful.”

Although still important, Frank Forndron, Director, Head of Quality Management, SAP EMEA Emerging Marketing and SAP MENA highlights that the days of success simply being defined as being ‘on time’ and ‘on budget’ no longer exist.

“These metrics fall short of the key element projects need to be measured on in today’s increasingly complex business environment, for example delivered business value in alignment with an organisation’s strategy. As a result, our customers, more than ever, define project success by looking at tangible business value delivered as a key parameter, rather than just looking at being on time and on budget.

“Whilst the way of measuring business value achieved can differ from company to company, we most regularly see metrics such as ROI and net present value (NPV) used by our customers to assess the overall value generation.”

Of course the definition of success always ties in to the project’s goals, and CIOs told ACN that they will consider everything from budget, time and ability to handle the company’s needs during peak business through to post go live stabilisation, usage, productivity gains and minimal customisation. In addition they don’t feel that the project has to go perfectly in order to still be declared a triumph.

“In the context of on ERP implementation, if 80% of the project scope is successfully delivered and accepted by the business, I declare it successful,” says Arun Tewary, VP (IT) and CIO, Emirates Flight Catering.

Ali Hyder, CEO of Focus Softnet also highlights that the definition can depend on the size of a business: “At SME level most customers are unaware of the ROI factor. The most critical aspect from their perspective is streamlining the business processes and in-time information. That itself is the biggest ROI which isn’t measured in figurative values but from a satisfaction index.”

Once a definition of success is in place, it’s now down to the IT team to be able to measure this. ROI, a great way to show the benefits of a project, is measured by keeping track of key performance indicators (KPIs) linked to the project’s goals. However results can take time to be clear, as Zaman highlights.

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