Is your IT project on track? And when should you finish it?

When working on an IT project, everything can come to a grinding halt. Nothing is moving, all work is deadlocked. In such cases, contracting authorities should sit up and pay attention. Today, it is not unusual to suspend a project and hand it over to other experts. How does it work? And when should you take such a step? 

When a new IT solution or application is being created, mutual trust and understanding is key. An IT expert should know what they are working on and what the result should be, applying their know-how, experience, and insight to the solution. You should be confident that you can rely on them, and that the output will be the solution you ordered. Unfortunately, the alchemy is not always there, and problems do not always go away.

What went wrong in your IT project?

Different things can go wrong. Miscommunication. Poor assignment. Badly asked questions by an IT expert, who really should have made sure they understood what you wanted as a customer. IT development is about language – not just programming languages, but also the language we use to talk to each other. And it pays to keep things straightforward and clear. 

Experience has shown us three main difficulties that can lead to projects getting stuck:

  • Experts lacking expertise. The assignment typically falls into the hands of a person who has read everything imaginable but has no real experience and no ability to lead a project or a team of people. They learn on the project, and it costs you unnecessary extra money. 
  • Poor implementation of technologies. Many wannabe experts blame technology for their problems and mistakes. However, we live at a time when most technologies are based on similar principles, only the languages used for implementation and development are different. We should never forget that technologies are only tools to implement ideas. They really cannot be blamed for a poorly performing project. 
  • Miscommunication and poor teamwork. Every IT project requires strong teams and sufficient know-how. If cooperation does not work, everything breaks down. An example is when two developers’ egos clash and neither wants to back down. Instead of meaningful discussions, arguments occur, delaying the completion of the project and thus incurring additional costs. Those managing such projects should nip problems in the bud, but often lose control due to their poor knowledge of the IT environment.

Experience leads to success

We have described three major situations that can lead to problems and failure to complete a running IT project. “However, a large share of projects would never have reached such a stage at all if the teamwork had worked. All team members should be proactive, working and supporting each other. But the pressure for individuality and self-assertion is now manifesting itself everywhere in society, including in the IT industry,” adds David Máj, founder of TechOne CZ. 

In order for a project to run smoothly and deliver the expected result, it is necessary to create a strong IT team whose members have good leadership and respect for each other. “This requires extensive knowledge of different disciplines, as well as a range of skills such as team leadership and the art of budgeting. Of course, other competencies such as solution design, in-depth knowledge of development, testing and deployment are also needed,” says David Máj. 

It is only when all these skills come together that the prerequisites for an IT project’s successful completion are created. Experts’ experience and openness to new things and modern approaches also play a big role. Implementing theories studied in books is not always worthwhile. Reason and thinking through a project are more important for success. Risks are then managed more effectively, and money is not wasted.

It is a problem/not a problem

The IT project you assigned is still not finished. The project got off the ground, but never reached the finish line. Any output, such as an application, is still not in sight. If you keep hearing excuses over and over again, and are allergic to any further postponements of the deadline, it is time to stop the work and hand it over to experts who will successfully complete the project. 

Before taking over a project and establishing cooperation, it is necessary to find the bottleneck – in other words, what is the current situation and where is the problem. It may turn out that the fault lies somewhere else than where the client perceived it to be. “That’s why it’s not a good idea to draw hasty conclusions, but to examine and analyze everything in detail,” adds David Máj. 

Once the problem is identified, a clash of opinions generally follows, but this clears the air. And it is an important prerequisite for solving the issue.

Mentoring, awareness, and IT knowledge

The moment a snag occurs, action should be taken. If there is a communication problem in the team, it is advisable to bring people together, look for a common path, and restart the project. But this is only possible up to a certain point, i.e. provided disputes have not become personal. When the situation is too heated, it is better to disband the team and form a new one. 

“If the team functions well and the problem is elsewhere, other tools will help, such as mentoring, education about IT technology and architecture. We can also look at concepts, at how programmers program, for example, and show them new directions and paths. It’s important to see the issue, to think everything through, to understand the goal, to know what the output should be, to create a functional item, to predict... We’re dealing with the art of perceiving, thinking, putting things together,” explains David Máj. 

His company TechOne CZ has this precise experience in taking over ongoing IT projects that cannot be completed for various reasons. For about 50 percent of them, you just need to set things up differently. The other half are then taken over by the company and managed in-house, creating new teams, showing people how things can be done differently and better.

Making an IT project really work

Of course, it is best if the person who takes on an IT project from the start really knows what they are doing. “A strong team leader brings people together. Technologies help us translate ideas into real applications, but it’s not their fault if a project fails or part of it doesn’t work. The most challenging thing is to find the right way, to devise everything technologically,” says David Máj. 

Therefore, an IT professional should listen to and talk to their customer, discuss the project clearly, and stay in constant communication with them on. “Don’t try to predict matters if you don’t understand or know the area in which the customer’s working. Don’t think you know more than the customer,” concludes David Máj.