Scott Groombridge used to think that the failures to complete IT projects that he saw were limited to the companies where he worked.
But as he grew older, he changed his mind.
“It really doesn’t matter what company you talk about because all they’ve all got huge cock ups,” says Groombridge.
It was his experience and observation, bolstered by some statistics, that prompted Groombridge to establish Getting IT Right in 2011. The non-profit organisation sets out to improve New Zealand’s IT completion rate by educating all levels, from vendor to client, but with a particular focus on managers.
The organisation offers seminars through other IT bodies — such as the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) — to discuss ways New Zealand companies can improve their IT performance. Groombridge says that from a reseller perspective, the key to seeing a project through is in knowing how a product or solution ties into the client’s strategic purpose.
“I think that for a long time now we have been told that IT is not part of the core business,” Groombridge says. “If you sell bulldozers, it’s the bulldozers that are the core part of the business. Fair enough. But all the knowledge of the bulldozer sits in IT and in knowledge management — and that sits in your business.”
This implies that resellers have to have an intimate knowledge of client’s business plan when making a bid or proposing a solution.
“I would point them back to that strategic plan,” says Groombridge. “Consider the bigger picture in all honesty. Don’t just tick the box. Challenge their ideas.”
For this reason, if resellers are not engaged with leadership at the executive level, “something is up, unless you’re selling an ink cartridge”.
“This goes for any size client,” says Groombridge, who runs Auckland-based IT recruiter, Sead. “There are 12 or 15 guys at my company, and if you sell me a printer, I want to know about it. I’m in on it, if it’s vital to my recruitment business. It would be mental if I weren’t.”
Groombridge readily admits that he does not have local statistics to support his thesis about IT project failure rates. But Getting IT Right cites research from other markets that show around a 25 percent failure rate. And, being in IT recruitment, Groombridge says he gets to hear from all sides how projects are going.
Ultimately, however, Groombridge reserves the most criticism for the management of a client doing the IT project in the first place.
“The problem comes from management. That’s where it always starts,” he says. “There are only three reasons a project fails: cost, time and unclear requirements. No matter what goes on at the end, it is the result of the leadership of an organisation.”
Groombridge says that the solution is pretty simple for resellers.
“Ask the CEO 'what’s your strategic plan, why do you want this solution, and what’s the priority for the reseller and the company?' Always clearly identify the owners and the strategy. They [resellers] can do a risk assessment before they start, about what the customer is like. But they should always be clear on the scope of the project and not oversell.”