How To Finish an IT Project on Schedule (and on Budget)
Sticking to deadlines and budget restrictions is immensely challenging when managing complex IT network projects like server migrations, cloud migrations, and hardware refreshes. Nevertheless, businesses realize that success depends on meeting these requirements or face expensive cost overruns, constant delays, and even network failure.
Small and medium-sized businesses that lack the in-house tech staff needed to finish complicated IT projects often turn to an IT consultant like Astute Technology Management to help navigate these challenges by providing the expertise, tools, and resources they’re missing.
We’ve assisted clients across the healthcare, commercial construction, and professional services industries in Ohio plan and implement a wide range of projects. This article will provide you with actionable examples and expert advice for completing your next IT project on schedule and on budget.
Clarify Your Technology Goals and Vision of Success
A clear IT project plan defines all essential activities that teams must accomplish to finish the project successfully. This involves considering all stakeholders’ priorities and objectives as well as identifying their assumptions, aspirations, and desired outcomes.
The overall purpose here is to outline the necessary milestones and benchmarks that guide your team in completing the project on time, within budget, and with minimal disruptions to your day-to-day business operations.
To better conceptualize these ideas, we’ll evaluate how we create a typical cloud migration plan for our clients.
Here’s How Our IT Consultants Plan Cloud Migrations
Step one aims to determine exactly why the client wants to migrate to the cloud. During this phase, we meet with stakeholders representing the various departments inside the client’s company to draw out a clear business case for the transition. The motive is to clearly outline the specific business objectives the client hopes to achieve.
After the client has rationalized why a cloud migration is the right solution for their business, the next step is to articulate an action plan for the migration.
A well-thought-out cloud migration action plan will help to:
- Develop an accurate budget that calculates upfront migration costs and ongoing monthly service fees.
- Assign key roles and responsibilities to the team that will transfer the data and applications to the cloud.
- Decide if the transition will be a “lift and shift” migration or an “optimized” The lift and shift approach moves existing workloads over with minimal changes. Meanwhile, optimized migrations will refactor code or change architectures to fully leverage all benefits of the cloud.
- Narrow down which cloud type (public, private, hybrid) and vendors (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc.) are best for the client’s business needs.
- Determine the testing and validation required to put the new system through the paces, ensuring it’s running as expected.
- Finally, construct a roadmap that includes all timelines, milestones, and deliverables.
Did you know that Tackvia found that 90% of business leaders say the cloud has increased the efficiency of their business processes?
Set Network Performance Benchmarks
If project planning sets the goals that you aspire to achieve, benchmarking measures what you accomplish relative to your goals, competitors, or previous projects.
Benchmarking empowers planners to eliminate the vagueness surrounding what success looks like and quantifies it in a way that all stakeholders understand. This helps the team standardize the meaning of success as explicit, data-driven expectations.
Furthermore, benchmarks help illuminate the reasons behind the goals and expectations of the project. For example, if your company is planning a hardware refresh that you expect will take three to four months, is this timeline based on feelings, assumptions, or data?
Data for setting benchmarks mostly comes from internal sources, competitors, or other industries.
Benchmarks From Internal Sources
Internal data sources help you set benchmarks and best practices for your current IT projects by measuring your progress or plans against previous projects your organization has completed.
Benchmarks From Competitors
Setting benchmarks based on your competition is ideal as it can help you develop a competitive advantage. However, collecting valuable data from competing firms takes a lot of work. Some sources of useful data for competitive benchmarking include news articles, press releases, and sales reports.
Benchmarks From Other Industries
Many creative businesses use this method to collect helpful data to analyze trends, best practices, and processes that leading companies in other industries follow. This information can be useful in creating unique data-driven strategies to further differentiate your organization from competing firms.
To drive the point home, let’s assume we’ve been called in to help a client establish benchmarks for a company-wide hardware refresh. Key questions for benchmarking include:
- How frequently do competitors of a similar size do hardware refreshes?
- How long does it take them to complete their refresh?
- Are your top competitors buying or leasing their hardware equipment?
- How are they financing these purchases?
- Do your competitors undergo the hardware refresh process all at once or piecemeal?
- How do they avoid unplanned outages and downtime when upgrading critical hardware infrastructure?
- What type of hardware products have our end-users asked for that you can provide during the next refresh cycle?
Calculate the Risks and Adjust Accordingly Adjust
It’s essential to understand the core risks that stop businesses from completing IT network projects on time and on budget. These risks can broadly be divided into three categories: business risks, project risks, and technical risks.
Business risks are typically associated with the potential for financial loss or damage to the company’s reputation. For example, if the project fails or falls short of expectations, this is a business risk. Project risks include things like scope creep, budget overruns, and schedule delays. Technical risks include security flaws, unplanned downtime, and compliance issues.
Keep in mind that these categories are loosely defined and tend to bleed over from one into the other. Let’s have a closer look at real-world IT project risks through the lens of assisting a client with their server migration.
Data is the lifeblood of modern businesses, and servers can store lots of priceless data. If a server migration fails, it could bring down the entire company, resulting in unhappy customers and costing untold sums of irrecoverable revenue. High-stakes network projects like server migrations perfectly illustrate why it’s essential to have qualified IT consultants on hand who can quickly troubleshoot and fix any problems that arise.
Major project risks inherent to server migrations can be mitigated if teams thoroughly understand how to answer these questions:
- What are the chances of experiencing downtime during the migration process?
- Do you have redundancies up and ready in case of failure?
- What dependencies are involved in the migration?
- What kind of post-migration validation process is in place?
As for the technical risks, teams should prepare to address new security challenges and attack vectors after completing a server migration. For example, moving assets off-prem introduces new control and customization restrictions that limit your team’s ability to respond as they would to on-prem incidents. Additionally, on-prem to off-prem server migrations tend to present novel compliance issues due to concerns over access control and multi-tenant environments.
Hire a Trusted IT Consultant for Your Next Project
Each project is different, there is no all-purpose solution that solves all challenges. If you’d like tailored advice for your next IT project. If you want to partner to help provide insight and guidance for your next project in Cincinnati, Columbus, or Cleveland, we’re available any time.
Contact us at 614 389 4102 or [email protected]!