A round-up by Innovise’s Andy Massey
Implementing new technology, within any business sector, will always confront managers with a distinct set of challenges which must be overcome if an organisation is to absorb new technologies. With Reports1 suggesting that of those that fail, 25% of technology projects fail outright, 20% to 25% don’t provide the desired ROI and 50% require major rework to get them embedded into a business, motivation to change the status-quo can be affected.
There is no getting away from the fact that most organisations have experienced projects that were not on time, budget or met the defined scope. We have explored the reasons why technology projects fail and applied this to the Facilities Management and Guarding world. The following 5 reasons were identified:
1. Short term, site-based thinking
A well-known example of short-term thinking is that of Blockbuster2, where a small fledgling founder of a video subscription service met with the Blockbuster CEO with a partnership proposal. He was laughed out the room. Years on, that founder is Reed Hastings3, the CEO of Netflix and Blockbuster are no more.
In FM, both problems and opportunities present themselves every day. Often, these are identified, and the workforce is tasked with ‘solutionising’ the challenge presented as quickly as possible to alleviate a disgruntled client, customer or to protect the welfare of the public – and typically at a site level.
This short-term focus prevents organisations from looking at the bigger impact across their own business and identify areas of added value or issue avoidance across the enterprise.
The answer; When considering technology for a site or contract, FM’ers should explore the value of a wider reaching technology implementation, so that the entire business can be agile when presented with new challenges.
2. Technology that is not fit-for-purpose
Within the technology space there are many “me too” organisations, who claim to be able to do what every other competitive solution does. This is where the re-work occurs, and project costs and timelines slip. Choosing a technology that does exactly what you need it to do is vitally important.
In FM and Guarding, the choices reach far and wide at first glance, although many technology providers do not understand the intricate ways in which FM’s work. Added dimensions such as contact management, pay calculations and client specific SLA’s can be promised although are more difficult to deliver.
The answer; When looking at technology, search for evidence that it has a successful track record in the industry. Request references or seek validation from industry peers that the technology solution is suitable for your business needs.
3. Underestimating cost, time and resource
In FM, cost is a critical factor of operations. In fact, 94% of clients4 cited cost as the most important criteria when evaluating a solution. It is very easy to be tempted to opt for the cheapest option, without firstly considering the total cost of a project.
Added cost can also mean added time and resource requirements. In the example of the Scottish Parliament Building 5, the costs to implement were millions of pounds higher than anticipated, along with years of delays. As this example shows, any organisation of any size can fall foul of underestimating the costs, time and resources of a project.
The answer; Within an FM organisation cost, time and resource is always tight. Therefore, it is important that real planning and consideration goes into a technology project. In addition, consideration should be taken specifically for the who, when and where’s of the project so that is has the best chance of success
4. Lack of top-down sponsorship
Too often, technology projects are deemed “IT projects” and relegated to the IT department, regardless of what the project is 6. For a project to work, executives, managers and employees throughout the business need to be behind the project unanimously.
In FM where employees can be spread across the world, it is important that the technology project is a business improvement project and not just the responsibility of IT. Even if all front-line staff do not engage immediately, it is important that high-level execs and senior managers are onboard and have belief in the project to deliver it within the organisation and meet any internal challenges head-on.
The answer; Top-down sponsorship is key for project success. Unless all Executive members and Senior Management teams are on board with the project, the success rate will dramatically decrease. Therefore, before agreeing to any project executive teams should all agree that the project is worthwhile and will benefit the overall success of the business.
5. Unclear objectives
The Portland Business Journal7 found that between 65% and 80% of IT projects fail to meet their objectives. According to Gallup 8, 70% of strategic initiatives are doomed to fail. Natural challenges against organisational change is complicated by poorly defined objectives, milestones and metrics.
Within all projects, it is important to remember the reason behind the project in the first place. Is it to enable to business to scale effectively, to control costs, to be more competitive, or something else? For project success, it is vital that these questions are asked before the project begins and are measured before, during and after the project is completed.
The answer; Define and measure. When starting a project, ensure that all objectives are clearly defined and communicated throughout the business and project teams. The methods and frequency of measuring these factors should be implemented alongside the project, so that they can be continually monitored to ensure the desired deliverables are achieved.
It is obvious that there are many factors that contribute to the success or failure of a project. From the reasons stated above there are clear themes that will define the success of a project. These are:
- Having a clear, defined and measurable objective before analysing solutions
- Get complete buy-in from Executives and Senior Managers who believe in what is trying to be achieved
- Thorough planning of cost, time and resources available throughout the project
- Ensure that the solution being implemented is the right tool for the job