CIO & IT Career Project Management: How to Plan for Success

By Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

CIO careerAs I work with senior-level IT leaders, IT operations directors, as well as IT program and project managers, I hear more and more about failed technology implementations. Not that the technology itself failed, although that certainly happens too. What really intrigues me is the level of project failure from an operational, functional, and process standpoint.

IT Project Failure: What Drives It?

Where to begin? IT projects fail for so many reasons. Chief among them, however, are reasons that must be considered before any project is initiated. These include:

  • A Poorly Defined Existing Process: For a technology integration to work well, a clear understanding of the existing process is vital. If the process–manual or automated–is not mapped out clearly, including all the sub-processes and deviations, there will likely be so many exceptions that the new technology will be deemed a waste and the adoption rate by the business groups will be low.
  • A Business Analysis Process That’s Lacking: I am one of those that truly believes the BA portion of the project is the most critical. The BA phase encompasses much of the information from the bullet above, as the functional business unit often does not have their processes mapped out in detail.
  • Transformation or Change Management: Finally, an IT deployment is not likely to be successful without having the business embrace the technology, the tools, and the new way of doing things. Without an effective change management plan, many are just going to pay lip service or find a way to do exactly what they do today within the new technology framework, resulting in no real change and no ROI.

How Can the CIO Plan for Success?

So how do you plan for success if you’re the CIO, CTO, or IT Executive?

  • Create an environment that fosters excellence in project planning and requirements gathering and analysis, not just on the execution time lines.
  • Establish boundaries for your program and project managers in regard to the scope of these initiatives so they are well defined.
  • Interface with other business leaders so you can help your teams avoid projects that balloon and cause significant scope creep, which often leads to projects that never really end.
  • Cultivate a focus on true organizational change by promoting collaboration with executives, managers, and key line employees from the business disciplines impacted by the new technology. This will drive acceptance, buy-in, and, ultimately, technology adoption.

A recent TechRepublic article presents 5 questions that an IT leader should ask before giving a project the green light.

What strikes me most from the IT career side of things is that many of these same questions should be applied in your approach to your career. Your career is essentially an ongoing “project” always in some stage of the lifecycle, be it initiation and planning, execution, or closure. If you take some of these principles and apply them to your IT career planning, you might find the road a little less uncertain.

What say you? We’d love to hear from you.

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About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (Nodd
) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at or send him an invite at To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!

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