Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Engagement works out

Although so many public sector IT projects notoriously fail, costing the tax payer millions and billions, some quietly succeed. Reasons for success may be the opposite of failures, as listed by the National Audit Office {NAO, 2006 }:
  • good project management
  • aligning IT with business objectives
  • having senior management commitment
How do you get that commitment? and how do you know when you've got it? What is commitment? The terms 'commitment' and 'engagement' are often used together, but engagement is woolly - what is it? and how do people do engagement on successful projects?

I think that engagement is open and honest communication, where people contribute their knowledge, expertise, skills, and key parties participate. Such participation requires shared aims, time, place and documents. People need to be clear about aims, but also need to discuss repeatedly in order to understand each others aims.

Small teams help, but that is not always feasible. Making it easy to communicate helps more and ways to ease communication require space to talk formally, informally face-to-face and electronically {Arino, 2001 #1464}. Sharepoint is one way, but relaxed face-to-face is avowed the best way of getting to know each other and to build up trust before getting into formal and perhaps difficult conversations.

For instance, before an IT supplier went in to see a client about task b, another client warned him: "he's not too happy about his [task a]". That water-cooler moment allowed a problem to be nipped in the bud. Talk. Keep talking. Talk whenever and wherever you can.

NAO (2006) Delivering successful it-enabled business change. IN NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE (Ed.). HMSO.
ARINO, A., DE LA TORRE, J. & RING, P. S. (2001) Relational quality: Managing trust in corporate alliances. California Management Review, 44, 109-131.

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