How can CTOs track the success of IT projects?

Programme and project management software has been around for some time now and has helped to reduce project risk, improve transparency and bring automation to project governance, allowing project teams to focus on solving project issues.

There is one aspect of project management that continues to present challenges for CIOs and CTOs – tracking and reporting success.

According to The State of Project Management Annual Survey 2017, 55% of organisations say they can’t track their performance in real time – in other words, information that could help their projects to avoid failure – while just 42% stay within initial budget expectations.

A 2016 survey by the Association of Government Accountants, meanwhile, revealed that CTOs found it difficult to communicate the cost savings associated with successful IT projects and to measure the risks of future projects.

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Two years on, it’s still an area that CTOs can find difficult to illustrate, with demonstrating return-on-investment highlighted as a problem in particular, along with a basic struggle to communicate cost savings to other parts of the agency.

Demonstrating how project management software helps drive the bottom line of a business should be a key focus for any cloud technology company worth its salt and it’s something we continue to examine and refine to ensure our project management software meets the needs of our customers.

While illustrating return-on-investment continues to be tricky to report, there are tools to track costs at a granular level, ensuring organisations don’t go over-budget. This can be especially beneficial and reassuring for those that have experienced spiralling project costs in the past, as our software can provide alerts to the team when they’re in danger of going over-budget.

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It is important to remember return-on-investment should not be examined in isolation. It is just one of several key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to evaluate the success of a project.

The most relevant KPIs vary from business to business and even from project to project, but the most common ones that can be measured alongside financial outcomes include the following:

• Quantitative data – for some projects other numerical data can be just as important as demonstrating its financial success. For example, measuring the number of customers who sign up to a new monthly subscription service.
• Qualitative date – this could include looking at anecdotal evidence of improved team performance.
• Process – looking at the efficiency of the project.

Combined, these KPIs can help to produce a thorough, in-depth examination of how project management software has helped to meet business objectives.

Before choosing the project management software that’s best suited to your needs, it is vital to take a holistic view of the project and consider all of the factors that could come into play before choosing the criteria that will determine your KPIs.

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Bearing this in mind, a 2017 report from the Project Management Institute (PMI) showed that success rates for IT projects are on the rise.

This has been partly attributed to businesses moving away from solely relying on looking at cost, time and resources to determine if a project has been successful and instead looking at if the project delivers the business benefits promised.

Return-on-investment will always be a key focus in measuring the success of IT projects and we absolutely must continue to look at ways in which financial reporting in projects can be made easier and even more efficient.

But it’s also fantastic to see increasing numbers of companies taking a more holistic view of success and using this to shape their projects.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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