“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” (C. S. Lewis)
“If ‘Plan A’ didn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Stay cool.” (unknown)
“If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.” (Quentin Crisp)
I hope these are not quotes that you hear from the project portfolio manager in your company - or the investment review board, or the CIO. With billions and billions of dollars estimated as being thrown away annually on failed projects, there is no place in corporate IT for these laudations to failure.
Yet sometimes I get the feeling that project failure is an accepted standard - not just accepted but expected. How otherwise to explain the fact that there are still so many IT organizations that don’t vet projects against their architecture landscape to identify potential sources of project failure? How else to understand the cautious growth that the Integrated IT Portfolio Analysis (IIPA) market has experienced until now?
But things are changing - companies seem to be wearying of frequent and/or big software development mishaps. IIPA is experiencing greater awareness and enjoying active pursuit by CIOs, IT strategists, IT planners and enterprise portfolio managers. With business demand for digitalization driving the need for agility, cost-effectiveness and innovative solutions from IT organizations and these organizations being buoyed by their maturity in project, application and investment management, IIPA is making its way into the mainstream. And the analyst community is doing its part to nudge IT organizations towards success. It has taken a while but finally the Project Portfolio, Application Portfolio, Enterprise Architecture and IT Strategy Management contingents in the various analyst houses are, if not joining forces, at least acknowledging the co-existence and symbiotic relationships of these practices.
Check out the following analyst reports and you’ll find evidence of the inter-relatedness of these topics.
- The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Architecture Management Suites, Q3 2015
- The Forrester Wave™: Portfolio Management Tools For The BT Agenda, Q1 2015
- The Forrester Wave™: Strategic Planning For The BT Agenda, Q1 2015
- Gartner ”Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Architecture Tools”, November 4, 2015
- Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Integrated IT Portfolio Analysis Applications”, November 30, 2015
Instead of costly failures, IT organizations can begin to accept –and expect –significant cost savings. Recently a customer reported on the insight and benefits they are experiencing by comparing the status of their applications to projects that were in planning or execution (they use the Gartner “TIME” approach to assess their application portfolio. In its report “Use Application Rationalization to Get Out of an Application Hole, 2 May 2014, Gartner Foundational 3 September 2015 Gartner advises: “As part of the APM process, use a methodology, such as Gartner's tolerate, invest, migrate, eliminate (TIME) model, to determine your investment posture with regard to particular applications.”).
Lo and behold - the customer was surprised to discover (or probably not) several of their planned projects were targeting applications that were to be retired in the near future. Imagine the costs of re-scoping if that had been found out mid-way through the project. They also found no projects for applications that were to receive future investment. While this wouldn’t represent a cost-savings per se, the insight they have won from this analysis does demonstrate the ability to adhere to the company’s application strategy–most likely one of optimization.
I have been constantly amazed that the integrated IT portfolio analysis concept has taken so long to take hold. It was clear to Software AG 10 years ago when Alfabet for enterprise architecture, IT planning and portfolio management was launched. Since then at least our customers benefit from an integrated view for IT, business and finance.
So let's get over this defeatist attitude when planning projects and start looking into IIPA as the first step. And if somebody named Edison comes looking for work in your IT organization, don’t hire him. Failure in IT is not a virtue.