I’m currently engaged as the part-time CIO for a global NGO specializing in supporting business and economic development. As part of a global effort to improve service delivery, we’re undertaking the implementation of significant upgrades or full replacement for all information systems—and most of the implementation work is being performed in 2014. Managing multiple IT projects simultaneously can be complicated.
This presents an extremely daunting challenge for any organization, and therefore is not a challenge that I would recommend. However, when opportunity knocks (in this case, in the form of a funding window), the brave respond. I do indeed count the many client stakeholders participating in these projects among the brave, for they have selflessly given talent, time, and tenacity to help ensure success. Does that guarantee that we will be successful? By no means! But it does guarantee that we will have a very decent shot at meeting our goals.
The challenges of managing multiple simultaneous implementation projects with limited resources are severe but not prohibitive. The keys are frequent and consistent communication, a dedication to taking the time to get things right, a mutual recognition that not every desire will be met with a response (prioritization is the key), and above all, a team approach in which the business units share ownership of the systems with IT, and in which both parties are willing to share responsibility for success/failure.
In a super-compressed timeline such as we have with this client, it is critically important to acknowledge roadblocks in real time and develop effective approaches to circumnavigation. Don’t wait to have these conversations! I’ve been very consistent with this client in discussing both potential and actual project risks, and we’ve had candid discussions that will not only help with the implementation projects but will also shape the IT strategy and ecosystem at the organization for years to come.
The reward for all of the hard work is the opportunity to extend the organization’s ability to create a global impact, whether in Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, or wherever the opportunities lead! The vision is to create a global, technologically connected, informed, and enabled community of consultants and volunteers to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.