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5 obstacles to flawless project execution

Lou Markstrom | March 23, 2017
How well thought out strategies can be translated into seamless execution

Once you have your strategy and metrics (the what), engage members of your team, at all levels, to come up with the ‘how’. Let them define action plans to support every strategic objective, based on the metrics.

You will be amazed at how well the people who do the job every day can describe how to achieve lofty goals. It creates employee engagement. And the peers of employees that help develop the action plans also increase their engagement because they see that management is listening.

3. Resources are poorly managed

How many times have you come up with a great plan, gotten 6 months down the road, and then had the realisation that you don’t have all of the resources you need to deliver the results?

Work with your team to estimate who needs to work on each project and how much time is required. Use these estimates to figure out who is overloaded and identify the resource gaps.

Now you have two choices. Either eliminate some projects, and adjust your strategic objectives and metrics, or get more resources.

Often, you will find that the cost of a few contractors will be more than offset by the profitability of the associated project.

4. Your team is distracted by new, shiny objects

New initiatives come in, either opportunistically or in response to a threat. Do you have a way to deal with shiny objects without jeopardising the entire strategy?

Here’s a simple but effective technique to deal with shiny objects. Once the strategic plan is in place and you begin execution, treat every new initiative as a trade-off. Who needs to work on that new initiative?

What are they working on today? With those answers in hand, determine if the new initiative will earn back the sunk cost of any initiative that you stop, and still be profitable. And determine if the current projects can be stopped and still deliver value.

If the shiny object doesn’t create more value than what you’re currently working on, then it has to wait.

5. You don’t have the right skills and your culture needs work

The Gartner Global CIO Survey reported that talent and culture are the number 1 and number 3 obstacles to achieving the CIO’s goals.

Let’s start with talent. You’re moving, or have moved, to agile, DevOps, cloud, increased cyber security, and more.

Have you done a gap analysis on your team’s skills versus your strategy? Are you full of ‘A’ players or do you expect your ‘B’ and ‘C’ players to transform your business?

How about culture? Research with 130 leading CIOs – people operating at or near stage 4 of the IT Maturity Curve – uncovered 14 core competencies required of IT organisations to operate at this stage.


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