Resourcing Large Projects

When discussing large projects (like an EHR, ERP, or replacing an HMO claims processing system) I often use the phrase “all hands on deck.”  I am trying to convey that these projects not only expend IT resources, but those business leaders that need to re-develop all of their core business processes around the new technology.  Additionally, there is a ripple effect that impacts senior leadership and even those in departments that you would not expect to be effected.

But, I am starting to think that isn’t an effective way to communicate the resource-intensive nature of these projects. Often I am asked what I mean by “all hands on deck.” Secretly, I fantasize about re-enacting this scene from The Professional:

Of course your business cannot come to a halt for a single project.  You still need to advance other strategies and respond to competitive threats.  You need to make sure you are still providing a quality service to your customers.  But, I believe most organizations err to underestimating the effort.   Large IT projects will impact what you can hope to acheive in other areas and if leadership’s ambitions are not scaled appropriately you will end up with overly-stressed staff and a project that doesn’t seem like it can ever get the attention it needs to finish.  So, it maybe beneficial to be a little melodramatic when explaining the resource need.

6 thoughts on “Resourcing Large Projects

  1. I am going to use that one! So accurate. Do you ever get the response that you are a techie so you really don’t know what I need?

    I believe many sponsors purposefully underestimate the project’s resources so that it gets through the rounds of scrutiny from senior executives, opinion leaders and other stakeholders. This is one area where I wish vendors would keep track of the client-side resources required for projects so they too could paint an accurate picture of who is needed (job description and soft skills required), for how long and when. It is ultimately in their and our best interest to do this right.

    When I perform a reference call or a site visit during due diligence, I really make an attempt to get a good feel for the resourcing and recheck it with the vendor’s implementation team.

  2. Great post. As a new CIO, this is something I’m working too learn to convey properly (the video does a great job!) and even fully realize myself.

    Thanks for sharing your insights on the blog.

  3. Sometimes upgrades require the same diligence. I am going through one now that introduces a new way of working and also changes the business process for a good deal of employees. I hope that when all of the pieces are in place that it will be appropriately homogenized with the workforce.

  4. Natalie – great point – many upgrades not only require the same diligence, they truly demand it, otherwise the existing application functionality will “erode” and the new features that the vendor added, will sit dormant. It takes a keen eye to examine the new features added, determine how it can benefit you and figure-out how the business processes will change.

  5. Great post.

    This is exactly what is happening to us. We bought some software that we thought would force us to create processes. Unfortunately, business wasn’t involved enough, and now we have the software, but we don’t know what to do with it.

  6. This post makes a great deal of sense.

    I have a saying that I use from time to time “What happens in Vegas DOES NOT stay in Vegas.”

    By this I mean that what happens in one department ALWAYS has ramifications for other departments. The question is, will we do the work to understand those ramifications and ensure that they are beneficial, or at least, neutral, with respect to the organization’s critical success factors.

    I loved the video and and course saved a link to it!

    While I don’t know your audience, Will, in my experience good presentations tell engaging stories. There is often more room for small amounts of humor than we realize.

    Thanks for a great post!


    John Sambrook
    Common Sense Systems, Inc.

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