It pays to plan and manage

Small and medium-sized businesses have to move quickly, especially when it comes to their IT. Too much delay can leave them without the resources they need to grow, or even to continue day-to-day operations. Because of that need for breakneck speed, many small businesses jump right into infrastructure or process improvement products without proper and planning—often to their detriment.

Unfortunately, consulting firms often feed into their need for speed by promising immediate results to their client’s problems. But again, without planning, those results are usually not the ones the client needs. Even if they are, the cost overages can be staggering.

A colleague recently shared this article. The article discusses a multi-billion dollar organization, backed by two of the largest and biggest names in consulting / IT. Those big names completely dropped the ball on a major project. The article struck me not because of the large numbers, but because of the percentage of budget overrun. Missing a budget by 10%, 15% or even 20% isn’t uncommon in some sectors of the IT industry, but in this case, they blew it by 388% and missed the deadline by 327%. After all that, the project was cancelled.

Only one question comes to mind when I read articles like that: Where was the planning and project management? The short answer is that there probably wasn’t any. Or if there was, it was only a token attempt at planning. Quite frankly, it’s pathetic.

The client in the article is a multi-billion dollar international company. Chances are, they’ll recover from the loss just fine, but most small and medium-sized businesses can’t afford 388% budget overrun on a mission critical IT project. It would result in stunted growth, or worse, a downturn in the overall business. This is why it is so critical that all IT projects, no matter how big or small, go through proper planning and have proper ongoing management

 

IT Planning Saves Money

The added expense of upfront planning and ongoing project management often scares businesses as they don’t see any direct value received from the expense. This can cause a business to cut corners in an attempt to save money, only to cost them much more in the long run. It is much easier to say “Let’s get started solving that problem!” and dive right into solutions than it is to step back, evaluate, ask questions, document and then pick a solution from available options. Like most things in life, the short and easier road is not the best road for the long term.

A real-life recent example can give you an idea of how spending money on planning can save you money in the long run. Polleo Systems is nearing completion on a long, complex project with a client. After almost six months, the finish line is in sight. Due to the size and complexity of this project we spent two and a half months sitting in meetings, documenting and designing. The result was over 180 pages of densely packed documentation.

The process was not always fun, it was long, sometimes monotonous and yes, it did cost just shy of $25,000. The end result is what matters though. Just over 6 months later, here is what the upfront planning and on-going project management has yielded for the client:

 

  • Original budget: $254,520
  • Actual spend: $255,543
  • Difference: $1,023, with a variance of 0.4%

By investing just under 10% of the overall project cost, the client got their project on-time, on-budget, that they were able to plan almost down to the dollar.

Planning for IT isn’t just something reserved for the enterprises and big businesses with project management offices. Planning for IT is something that every business, no matter how big or small, should be doing.

At Polleo Systems, we believe in taking the time to plan and prepare for all projects. Don’t wind up with out-of-control and unexpected IT costs. Plan, prepare, succeed.