This is the first of a three-part series on “The Hidden Elements of a Successful Project.” In this post we will look at the investment of time. The next post will concentrate on “The Alignment of Cultures: Why RFPs are Bad for the Customer.”
When a company embarks on a project with a consulting firm they usually understand the dollar investment they will need to make. This is because most companies have a robust process for prioritizing and selecting which projects they will undertake each year. For some companies, this process – including acquiring budget – can be quite time consuming. Once the project has been selected most companies again have a defined model for selecting a vendor. This may be an informal selection process or a highly formal RFP process. Once a vendor has been selected there is usually a huge sigh of relief as the “hard” work has been done. The project is going to happen.
What many companies don’t prepare for is the time and effort it will take to execute the project once the vendor has been selected. This is particularly true of the individuals outside the IT organization that need to be involved to refine the business requirements. It is understandable that these business users are not prepared for the time and effort they will need to spend planning, prioritizing, and reviewing a solution because they still have their normal day jobs to fulfill. Often the very reason the project was undertaken is because these folks were overburdened to begin with and now they have extra duties to help with the new solution.
The easy answer to this problem would be to just pull one or more business people from their normal day jobs and have them work on the project full time. However, for most companies this isn’t realistic. Therefore it becomes the responsibility of both the consultants and the business users to find the correct balance, which is not an easy task.
RDA’s approach to handling this is to have staff that is cross-trained in handling both business requirements and development. By removing a layer of dedicated business analysts, our teams are able to gain the critical business understanding we need with fewer and shorter meetings. RDA also works with our clients ahead of time to set expectations around the types of individuals that we will need to interact with from the business and the amount of time we will need. By providing this detail upfront, the customer can better plan their schedules to accommodate the new demand on their time.
If you are looking to launch a custom application development project and would like some help with the planning to make sure all the necessary details are all covered, contact us and we will be glad to talk through the project with you.