Planning your epic enterprise project voyage

Enterprise projects take a lot of planning and time to be successful.

Aligning project goals with the resources available is a challenging task, made especially difficult when you don’t have a good plan to follow.

Get ready for a slew of nautical metaphors and a lot of great tips for starting your projects.

Planning projects and keeping them on track is a tough gig. Just ask any project manager, marketing director, IT director, or anyone else that has been charge of designing and developing an enterprise-level application.

From deciding which platform to build the solution on to making sure everyone’s needs are met, there is no shortage of reefs that can beach your ship before you even get out of port.

So how does a company plan their project and ensure calm waters for the entire journey?

Only a fool heads to sea without a course

Understanding the needs of the project is the first step in the planning phase.

Without a clear definition of what you need, there’s no sense in even heading for the docks.

>See also: Gartner reveals seven best practises for effective project management

Smart companies will conduct the necessary research to identify and define as many requirements as possible, by hosting user groups, talking to all partners and customers, and getting input for all departments within the organisation.

Only then will you have all the information required to create your project plan. You will recognise the features you need to achieve your goals, identify potential issues, and take a huge leap to ensure your project’s success.

Rowboat? Skiff? Sailboat? Yacht?

Once you know where you want to go, you have to decide how to get there. Taking a rowboat around the world would take a lot of Red Bull. Steering a yacht down a mountain stream would make an insurance company really nervous.

Understanding when to use each is the key to travelling safely through any waters.

Every project can be different and matching the platform and tools to your requirements is essential.

You should select the right instrument for the job and know that you are set up for success from the beginning.

Find a solution that fits your needs, not the other way around. Evaluate your CMS platform features, extendibility, scalability, and customisation options to see how they align with your specific requirements.

If they have multiple versions, learn the functionality of each one to see which one aligns best with your current and future goals.

>See also: The five factors to de-risking your technology projects

Avoid a Mutiny

After selecting the right ship, the next logical thing is to get a crew to run it.

A $10 million yacht without a good staff is just a really expensive buoy. Finding a crew that can run the boat safely, get you to your destination on time, and, above all, not turn on the captain (you) are important parts of the process.

If you have a great development team, make sure they have the skills and experience to work with the platform you have selected. If they don’t, look into certified training to get them up to speed on how to use the product and best practices for implementation.

It may be an additional cost to the bottom line, but it will pay for itself by educating your team on the CMS and setting them up to maintain it in the future.

For training, focus on the features and functionality that match your project goals.

If you don’t have an in-house team, (or just not one that’s available), find an experienced partner to help you develop your application. Look for a proven track record, great references, and a deep pool of talent to handle the job.

There’s no sense in your project taking the hit of getting another company’s talent trained.

>See also: 5 ways to ensure the success of smart city projects

They should have several success stories with the platform, certified developers on staff, and a long list of satisfied customers.

Lastly, define a transition plan after the project is complete for your internal team to take over maintenance on the site. This will be key to ensuring that your needs are not dictated by someone else’s schedule and availability.

Mooring lines away

Once you finally know what you are going to develop and who is going to do the work, it’s time to get down to business. Crack a champagne bottle over the bow, lay on your whistle, or head out on deck and wave to the people on the docks.

However you do it, make sure all parties have a clear and definite signal that the project is underway, and the clock is ticking.

By now, you should have a thorough project plan, detailing what each party is responsible for. Stick to it!

You should make sure each task is broken down into logical and achievable segments. You should also note any potential risks for each step of the plan so that everyone sees them as soon as possible.

One of the worst things that can happen to a project is a catastrophic problem that no one saw coming.

Sailing by starlight

Congratulations! You have started your journey, and there is nothing but wide open sea in front you. You may deal with some swells and possibly find a castaway or two, but if you have a great project plan you should be just fine.

Assuming you keep charting your course and pay attention to what’s around you, you’ll avoid ramming any reefs or capsizing on an island full of sirens. The best captains will know how to read the stars and always find their way.

>See also: UK businesses must evolve how they approach project management – or fall victim to the productivity gap

Projects require a lot of attention along the way.

Deadlines have to be reviewed and adjusted.

Budgets should be tracked closely to catch any financial vortices.

Your development should be iterative, with frequent reviews along the way, to be sure your requirements are being met.

Smart companies involve their marketing teams, as well as their developers, throughout the project so everyone knows what to expect and how they plan on measuring results.

Appoint a lead person from each department to be a representative for their area. This will ensure that everyone stays up to date on any new developments or changes, and this minimizes the pains of miscommunication.

After your project is done, it’s time to look at data. A lot of data.

>See also: CIOs struggle to prioritise strategic projects and align with business strategy – survey

CMS platforms collect a ton of great info, so be sure you track your traffic and have the right skills to understand the data.

Many CMS products offer training specifically for marketers, allowing your team to learn how to get the most out of the product. It’s also a great idea to get some of your developers knowledgeable on the marketing aspect of things, so they understand why certain things are needed.

The main point is to communicate often and keep everyone headed in the right direction.

Moving forward

Every organisation is different, and all have unique needs and goals.

Aligning your skills with the right tools can help you get to your destination, whether through rough seas or when becalmed.

Just remember to hoist your mainsail and batten down the hatches before heading out to sea.

 

Sourced by Bryan Soltis, technical evangelist at Kentico Software

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.

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