Successful IT projects depend on successful partnerships between the IT organization and its end-user community. Unfortunately, the IT/end-user relationship is not always what it should be (or could be).
In fact, at times, the relationship can even turn adversarial. This does not bode well when projects are at stake. What is the most common source of all this frustration? It may all come down to internal politics, pride of ownership and a fear of losing control.
Both sides have a stake in how the game is played (whether they like it or not), and the best way to achieve success is to get on the same team. The first step towards building a successful partnership, with shared interest and ownership, is to clearly define project specific roles and responsibilities.
Depending on the project and related organizational needs, end-users roles can run the gamut from customer, to sponsor, to active participant, to liaison and even project executive. The possibilities depend on how your IT organization is structured, use of technology, and IT/end-user relationship. While related project roles will vary in specifics, there is one constant - assigned roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined and openly approved. To get everyone on the same page, these elements are most efficiently expressed and allocated according to four (4) key variables - scope, ownership, input and authority.
In practice, these four (4) variables of scope, ownership, input and authority must be incorporated into all tangible project planning actions and decisions, starting from the time a project need is first recognized and the project solution is proposed. How will we all work together to achieve the goal at hand? That is the key question to be addressed. In that light, end-user roles and responsibilities should be incorporated into expected resource requirements and stakeholder obligations as stated in the project “business case”. These requirements will then become factors to evaluate project viability and related risk. If sufficient end-user participation and engagement is not likely, compensating actions must be considered. At the end of the day, end-users are essential to IT project success and organizational planning must reflect that reality.
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