Extra - IT: How to guarantee your next IT project fails

Set high expectations, ignore users, pick untried technoloy - sound foundations for IT meltdown, says Robin Fisk.

1. Set expectations really high, and go public on them An ambitious 'go live' date, announced with suitable naivety and scant regard for the risks involved, will get everyone's attention. It's good for morale and earns you respect from your peers, in the short term at least. Your project's failure will gain maximum exposure if you raise the stakes early on.

2. Don't involve your users in the selection process Users are pesky, interfering and never happy - therefore they should simply be told when (or if) the new system is ready because this maximises the element of surprise. Offers to help during testing are to be firmly but politely declined because this could result in something called 'buy-in', which is often followed by equally unpleasant symptoms such as 'enthusiasm' and, worst of all, 'acceptance'. No thanks.

3. Choose the very latest, trendiest technology Proven technology is sooooo boring and lacks the thrill you get when rolling out a new, untested IT solution to the whole organisation. Better to be at the 'bleeding edge' than backing proven technology. It's more entertaining to be an early adopter, and it's something to put on the CV, isn't it?

4. One word: assume Predictability in IT projects is overrated and leaves little room for you or your supplier to express yourselves. Why, therefore, tie up all the project deliverables into a contract when a little assumption can fill the gap? Far from 'making an ass of u and me', assumption can cut down on effort all round while achieving that level of failure to which you aspire.

5. Ensure the requirements comfortably exceed the budget Don't be up-front about your pitiful budget at the start of the process. Talk big budgets when you first speak to a supplier, then watch their little faces as you reveal the real figure later on. Remember, champagne taste with beer money - you are a charity, after all.

6. Keep the project away from senior management Right from the start, the chief executive and director will ask awkward questions such as why, how much and when. It's much better to hear them ask those questions just as the project is terminated because then you will know your mission is already complete.

 - Robin Fisk, managing director of CRM software company Fisk Brett


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