The 80-120 rule for IT Projects.

As you will  know, I have helped many colleagues with setting up SharePoint Team Sites. These could be simple project sites, mainly used for sharing documents, but also sites where important processes were facilitated. (See tag DMWS-Examples)

My clients were very diverse. Each initial interview was therefore exciting. What kind of person would be  in front of me?

  • The Hesitator, who is actually quite satisfied with sending large documents by email, who does not mind to send around an Excel form every month to collect data from his colleagues, and to cut and paste the results manually into a report, and who can not  imagine that a meeting’s agenda and meeting minutes can be done online and not in a document. Yet there is the realization that things could be done more effectively, but how?
    Taking them by the hand, staying close to the existing process, and creating a comprehensive manual and training is the motto here.
  •  The System-Lover, who knows a lot of different IT systems, has attended SharePoint Connections meetings, and who now suddenly needs everything he or she has seen there. The moment you ask for a description of the current process and the issues to be resolved,  things go wrong because this person thinks in technical solutions rather than in business processes. Instead of thinking “how could we make this process simpler and better and reduce the issues”,  they say “this step needs Nintex workflow”.
    When working with the System-Lover, you need to stay focused on the process, and avoid the automatic deployment of new shiny functionality. Focus on using your existing toolset. You have to have that “business sense” I wrote about earlier.
  • The Ideal Partner who is able to discuss her / his problem process clearly and with openness, who is not afraid to commit to a business case  (“this task requires 2 hours work per person per week”) and who knows things can be done more effectively, and leaves me to come up with the best solution.  Who learns quickly, tests immediately and is a good sparring partner. This is a wonderful person to work with, because they always come back whenever they embark upon a new project or encounter a new inefficient process.

But there is also a client that is not so pleasant to work with, and that is the Resister. They have often been asked by their manager to improve a process, but they are not interested in or even afraid of technology, say that “SharePoint is not intuitive,” or do not believe that anything that you have done for 25 years, should be changed. Once you have finally defined the process, and have configured the site, suddenly new requirements appear, causing extensive rework. They never have  time to test, and each time there is another reason that the new process can not yet be implemented.
In short, these projects take a long time and are rarely finished or implemented.

By asking some flexibility from the client, some clever thinking and being creative with the available functionality of SharePoint we have always been able to approach the ideal situation pretty well. We therefore felt confident to promise at least 80% of the desired functionality, and generally to the full satisfaction of the client. But that does not apply when you are dealing with the Resister.

And that finally brings me to my 80-120 rule:
For someone who really wants something, or who really has a problem, 80% of the desired functionality will be sufficient.  But for someone who does not want to change, 120% is not enough.

Do you know better words for the different clients? Please let me know…I am not a native English speaker/writer.


4 thoughts on “The 80-120 rule for IT Projects.

  1. Pingback: Intranet Lounge
  2. Ed Dale January 23, 2012 / 3:41 pm

    Resisters need to have a clear issue that the application will solve, without that, a project is just a lot of work for no benefit.

    Reexamine the project, what benefit will it deliver to your resister? Putting yourself in their shoes, is it actually a benefit?

    • Ellen January 26, 2012 / 9:46 am

      Hi Ed, You are so right! They often did not see what was in it for them, because they were told to get it done. Sometimes they were resisting the solution (to a problem that they did not have), but also sometimes resisting their management. As the in-between, you can’t win!

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