Achieving Success in Strategic Projects

A GPS for directing, managing and delivering Complex IT projects.

In 1995, the Standish Group published its first Chaos Report. Based on assessments of 8 380 software application development projects, the Report found that only 16.2% of these projects could be regarded as successful.

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  • Solving Project Delivery Challenges

    Enriching the skills of business analysts and project managers.

    Across South Africa, organisations are faced with a serious IT skills problem. In particular, despite their best efforts, inexperienced and poorly-supported Business Analysts and Project Managers are unable to prevent the repeated damage caused by project failures.

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Leadership Roles and Management Roles

What are they, how do they differ, and what part do they each play in the delivery of successful IT-based projects?

Orchestrating project success means delivering the ‘Vital Five’ (VF). All successful projects fulfil the objectives of their vision, motivation, action, timeline, and budget.

On completion, successful projects contribute to building the company of tomorrow, reinforcing its competitive advantage in an ongoing cycle of positive evolution.

Such projects aim to fulfil the Vital Five in equal measure. Driven by commercial and technical pragmatism, there may well have to be agreed trade-offs between each element of the VF.

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  • The power couple

    What are the leadership roles of the project manager and the business analyst?

    Both project managers and business analysts should make vital leadership contributions to successful IT-based projects.

    What are their roles as leaders, how do they differ, and how should they co-operate most effectively?

    Business Analysts (BAs) identify business challenges and define a solution. Project Managers (PMs) solve the challenges by delivering the solution.

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Where do business analysts belong?

In project management, what skills do analysts need and how must they contribute to assuring project success?

A business analyst (BA) must be a major contributor in the management of IT-based projects that deliver all the required functionality, are completed on time, and within budget – a successful project.

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  • IT Professionals: Monetising Big Data

    How advanced analytics enable IT professionals to inform customer-centric business strategies that build revenue and profitability.

    IT professionals need to take increased responsibility for analysing big data to produce actionable insights into the customer base that will boost revenue and profitability, and reinforce competitive advantage.

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Agile: a response to the challenges of delivering successful software solutions

In 1995, the Standish Group published its first Chaos Report. The introduction refers to a humorous comparison between building bridges and developing software-based business solutions. In 1986, Alfred Spector of Transarc Corporation suggested that bridges are normally built on time, on budget and do not fall down. In contrast, software never comes in on-time or on-budget – and it always breaks down.

Based on assessments of 8 380 software application development projects, the Chaos Report found that only 16.2% of these projects could be regarded as successful: delivered on-time, on-budget and with their features and functions working as initially specified.

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  • Bridging the divide: solving the disconnect between IT and Business

    The BA must act as a bridge for two-way communication between IT and the business objectives it supports.

    The primary role of a business analyst (BA) is to define a company’s challenges and specify how best to resolve them using IT-based solutions. The BA must also be able to identify commercial opportunities and define how to leverage them with IT.

    A secondary role is to manage change as the company implements projects to address its challenges and opportunities in the most efficient and effective manner.

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IT tail wags the business dog

The danger of being solution-driven versus requirements-driven is that companies end up with more than they have asked for or budgeted for.

“We have the solution, what’s the problem?” That questioning statement pretty much sums up what technology vendors are saying to their customers. From the vendors’ perspective, it may seem to be a compelling mantra in their pitch to the market.

But for IT project managers (PMs) and business analysts (BAs), it’s a potentially poisoned chalice that induces the increasingly addictive and damaging symptoms of ‘solution dependency’.

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  • Engineering the requirements for project success

    The disciplines of requirements engineering and requirements assurance are the cornerstones of successful projects.

    How well a project meets stakeholders’ expectations is an accurate way to measure its success. The typical parameters being measured are the components of the so-called project management triangle – cost, time, and scope.

    In other words, the measurement reveals whether the project met expectations in terms of being delivered within budget, on time and according to an agreed specification… or not.

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Data Analytics Insights: Monetising big data

Building Competitive Advantage with Advanced Customer Data Analytics.

Senior executives are taking increased responsibility for analysing Big Data in ways that produce actionable insights into the customer base. Their involvement marks a shift from a traditional focus on reporting what happened in the past, to forecasting what needs to happen in the future. The motivation to do this is simple: to boost revenue and profitability.

There are three types of analytics that can be applied to business data: descriptive; predictive; and prescriptive. The most commonly-used analytics are referred to as descriptive because they describe past performance and its underlying causes. The majority of management reporting is still based on this form of historical analysis.

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  • Think Big Helper, Not Big Brother

    Data analytics brings customer service into focus.

    Mission Critical: Carn Iverson and Glenda Wheeler, who run a company called Tharollo Consulting, have helped save ill-conceived and poorly executed multibillion-Rand IT projects from going to the wall.

    Consider the snail trail of information left behind every time you scan a website, natter on social media, click a TV channel, buy a ticket, make a call, swipe a card, draw cash, pay an account, write a text message. As the stop orders tick off on your bond, car and insurance policy, somebody, somewhere, is recording those transactions.

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In the Media: Monetising Big Customer Data

Advanced analytics enable finance professionals to inform strategies that will build revenue and profitability.

There are three types of analytics that can be applied to business data: descriptive; predictive; and prescriptive. The most commonly-used analytics are referred to as descriptive because they describe past performance and its underlying causes. The majority of management reporting is still based on this form of historical analysis.

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  • In the Media: Monetising big data

    Local company, Tharollo believes its Advanced Customer Data Analytics (ACDA) solution has the ability to monetise big data by turning analysis into competitive advantage.

    In an interview with ITWeb, Tharollo directors Glenda Wheeler and Carn Iverson revealed that ACDA provides accurate insights into the customer base to guide business decisions that will increase revenue and profitability.

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Follow the Leader

The foundation for a successful project is firm leadership.

Successful IT-based projects – those that are delivered on time, on budget, and on spec – share some essential common characteristics. Everyone involved in the project will have a clear idea of what must be achieved, the reason why, what must be done, when by, and at what cost.

In short, they will understand a project’s guiding principles or, to coin a phrase, the Vital Five: vision, motivation, action, timeline and budget. They will also willingly co-operate as a cohesive team that adheres to these guiding principles.

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  • Solving the project delivery crisis

    Across South Africa organisations face a serious IT skills problem. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2013, SA is ranked 102 out of 144 economies for IT skills.

    The problem is particularly acute when it comes to delivering IT projects on time and within budget. Despite their best efforts, inexperienced and poorly-supported Business Analysts and Project Managers battle to prevent the damage caused to business by repeated project failures.
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Pushing the Boundaries of Communication in Business Analysis

This workshop conducted at the BASSA 2015 Conference explored how a BA can become a more effective communicator as well as influence stakeholders to communicate more effectively with one another.

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  • C Suite Business Analysis – Unlocking the true potential of a BA

    With disruptive technologies and business models threatening the corporate status quo this presentation delivered at the BASSA 2015 Conference looked at how the BA must perform a leading role in reshaping business to deal with the challenges of the future.

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The Business Analyst and Big Data

This presentation delivered at the BASSA 2015 Conference explored what big data is and why it has become the latest weapon in an organisation’s arsenal. We investigate the types of data, the role of the BA and DA and how the benefits of Big Data can be extended to the BA’s responsibilities.

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