Cost Overruns for IT Projects for the Pentagon Are, Unfortunately, Consistent with Enterprise Experience

This post constitutes our final annotation of an article published on February 11, 2013 by the Wall Street Journal, Send in the Tech Reinforcements. The article was written by Arthur Herrman and John Scott. We found three points in the article to be worth an expression of our own opinion:

  1. One of the clearest presentations that we have seen of a tangible benefit offered by cloud computing for enterprise business and other large organizations in the public and not for profit sectors
  2. A controversial position on the question of whether or not it makes sense to implement operational risk management policies and procedures over IT project implementations
  3. and, finally, a presentation of substantial cost overruns as a characteristic emblem of IT projects implemented on behalf of the Pentagon here in the United States of America

With regard to 3), we are in full agreement with the article authors. The substantial gap between planned IT project costs and the actual cost of delivering the very same IT projects for the Pentagon is extreme and certainly worth an effort to control. We, ourselves, wrote quite early in this blog on a similar topic, albeit strictly with regard to the history of IT project implementation for enterprise business.

In our piece we noted our own lack of familiarity with the concept of Portfolio Management for IT. We then provided a definition for this function for modern enterprise IT organizations, and our opinion that the function has taken on the prominent position that it presently has in enterprise IT organizations as a direct result of the same extensive gap between planned IT project costs in the private sector and the actual expenses associated with them once these projects have been completed.

Now that we read the same type of information in an article on IT project implementation experience in the public sector (the Pentagon), we have to go a step further and posit that, despite 30-40 years of methodology evolution (and a good bit of that evolution effected by prominent, well respected universities like Carnegie Mellon), IT project management continues to fail to deliver on organizational expectations.

Larger ISVs and the consulting firms that typically partner with them on behalf of larger customers, have to do a better job of projecting costs. But is the empirical process of analyzing past experience, and, then projecting a likely outcome, itself, flawed and highly unreliable? In the aftermath of reading an article like the one written by Messrs Herman and Scott we have to answer in the affirmative on that one.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


How do you nurture a Lead?

Nurturing leads is en vogue these days. Everybody has some type of method for making it through the long trek from lead to order that is today’s norm for selling products and solutions to large enterprise business customers.

Let’s start with what clearly does not work. Scheduled email newsletters, and unsolicited announcements do not work. Worse yet, recipients build a virtual callous and entirely ignore them. Don’t waste time dreaming up content for unsolicited periodic email. Further, forget about sending invitations to webinars to contacts who are merely tangentially connected to your product or service. These invitations will fall on the same blind eyes. Let’s not forget Tweets. Certainly Tweets are great for the “twitterdom” but what kind of referral traffic is your website getting from your Twitter account anyways? After all, who has the time to read all of those short Twitter messages anyways?

What works is to establish contacts over the telephone with parties that, at some time or other, may participate in a decision to purchase a product or service like yours, either for a present or a future employer. Once you’ve established contact through an authentic telephone conversation, then it is perfectly acceptable to gain the contact’s permission to check in on some appropriate schedule to catch up with any/all new developments that may have occurred since your last call. Certainly send this contact some collateral and/or links to your website subsequent to your conversation, but be sure to, once again, gain permission to do so before you push the send button on your email.

Where you have been able to classify a lead as an active participant in a present project that is at least peripherally related to your product or service, then it makes sense to either volunteer some supportive effort as a contribution to her efforts, or to extend an invitation to her to participate in some activity that you are sponsoring where her opinion might provide you with some useful information. LinkedIn Groups are a great attraction for this type of invitation. As well, any market initiatives that you’ve undertaken will provide a potentially attractive venue for her participation.

I noted that her project should be at least peripherally related to your product or service to sketch the opportunity to partner with prospects as they proceed through the development of clearly defined specific needs. Today’s realities are such that what looks important today may change, radically, over time into a clearer, attainable objective in the future. Be sure to make a best effort to get a seat on this ride.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved