Why Projects Fail Part II

Why Projects Fail Part II

By Paul McAteer, Head of Project Delivery

Running a complex software development project without a Project Manager would be comparable to a ship without a Captain – very likely to hit the rocks.  The Project Manager has the responsibility of planning and execution of the project, ultimately managing and maintaining the progress, interaction and tasks of the project team in such a way that reduces the risk of failure, maximizes customer benefits and minimizes costs.

Implementing the wrong management approach can spell potential disaster.  Adopting waterfall rather than agile might deliver what was asked for by the business, however may not actually result in what was needed.  With this is mind, it’s imperative that the Project Manager has a clear understanding of the requirements, expectations, milestones and deadlines and adopts the most suitable management approach for the project.

  • In the event that the project has a very tight and compelling deadline, adopting an agile management approach means less time spent on requirements gathering at the outset of the project. This approach allows for the project scope to change rapidly and frequently, by placing emphasis on stakeholder involvement and communications.  This process needs to be highly managed with a close eye kept on resource utilisation, project costs and output expectations to avoid the situation spiraling out of control.
  • If the stakeholders have an exact idea of their requirements (ie porting from a legacy system), then waterfall may be best. This method is based on progress flowing steadily through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production/implementation and maintenance.  However, also having a thorough understanding of what the business needs (as opposed to what they want) is essential in order to deliver the final product or solution that works best.

It is essential that the Project Manager has open lines of communication with all stakeholders and end users. They should be empowered with the appropriate level of authority and possess effective relationship skills in order to make things happen and effect change on a day to day basis particularly when resolving any challenges and ensuring that the all relevant parties live up to their responsibilities.

Inevitably, with complex technical projects, the technical detail can become baffling to most observers, however to the Project Manager, they need to be able to understand at a high level the technicalities and their potential impacts on project delivery.  The Project Manager isn’t going to be writing code or creating technical architecture, but they do need to possess a level of technical understanding in order to communicate effectively with everyone involved without having to call upon the support of a technical authority to translate at every turn.

Finding and keeping experienced Project Managers in today’s competitive market can be tricky, however this resource is imperative to the successful outcome of any large project and shouldn’t be overlooked.

In the next post, we’ll consider how technology and in-house IT resources can impact successful project fulfilment.

Technology Trends for 2019

Technology Trends for 2019

In 2018, the growth of artificial intelligence and technologies such as speech recognition, natural language processing and driverless cars continued to emerge more and more onto public domain, with AI algorithms becoming ever more powerful.Cloud computing is growing rapidly with many new services being developed and offered by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud platforms. This is only a fraction of the activity the technology industry has experienced in 2018, hence this blog looks forward to trends in hot software technologies you can expect in 2019.

Artificial Intelligence

On the 15th March 2016 AlphaGo, a computer program developed by Google DeepMind, defeated the 18-time world champion at Go, an ancient Chinese board game widely considered to be the most complex board game ever played by humans. This marked an important landmark for Artificial Intelligence, however the milestone event also had an effect of awakening businesses and those in industry to the potential of AI and Machine Learning technologies to improve on tasks hitherto thought better done by humans. Since at least the beginning of this decade, the realisation of AI potential has been following an exponential trend, with 2019 looking to be the most exciting year to date. One application of Machine Learning and AI technology that promises to play a rapidly increasing role in 2019 is Speech Recognition. In 2018, we saw Amazon’s Alexa become a sensation with consumers as automation of tasks such as playing music and booking appointments were made trivial through the power of speech. It is predicted that over 66 million Americans will be using speech technology in 2019, a fact which is subsequently backed up by the heavy investment seen by big players such as Sony and LG in the technology.

Another aspect of Machine Learning that will have currently unimaginable impact in 2019 is our ability to predict using the larger and larger data sets that we now have at our disposal. From Amazon’s ability to predict its users’ needs and desires to the US military using ML algorithms to predict when vehicles will require maintenance and repair, it is clear that AI is revolutionising business efficiency and performance.

Cloud Computing

In the 80’s, relational models were created for use in databases with the objective of optimizing storage space, which was a data centre’s most expensive variable at the time. They normalized data and used relationships to minimise duplication of data. However, in 2019 storage costs have fallen dramatically, which has ignited a subsequent paradigm shift in database technology. Where SQL was once used to manage relationable, NoSQL databases are now being implemented that put less emphasis and pressure on the need for minimal duplication of data, as we can now afford to compromise on storage in order to scale hugely. Denormalised NoSQL databases have the advantage of being able to be queried using applications such as OLTP at scal, which allows for queries that would be incredibly difficult and complex to implement in SQLto be implemented quickly with less processing power.

This is definitely not the death of relational databases but more and more cloud databases, with their ease of deployment and maintenance are replacing traditional enterprise databases such as Oracle and SQL Server.

Another trend which will grow in 2019, is the larger migration to serverless cloud technology. Serverless cloud computing offers a simpler and more cost-effective alternative to traditonal cloud computing in that code is not deployed to a machine, or virtual machine of software container. AWS, Azure and Google are driving application development in the cloud towards serverless microservice deployments where enterprise applications are split into small cooperating services on the cloud. This improves greatly on the enterprise monolith application (one application with a database) which is difficult to scale and to develop in a fast and agile manner. Due to a culmination of the integration of these technologis, in 2019 flexible cloud-based technology will continue to boost operations by reducimg time to market and total cost of ownership for organisations. According to Deloitte (2018) 60% enterprises are expected to move their IT systems to the cloud by 2019 as part of digital transformation, with many software companies also integrated AI capabilities into cloud-based enterprise software and bringing them into the mass market.

Therefore, the growth in new and innovative technologies proves to be exciting this year. This yeilds not only greater business operational and creative potential, but the commerical possibilities ring and changes to societal norms will be continually manipulated.

 

Further Reading

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