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As IT organizations struggle in a difficult business environment, they might look to traditional structural design used in building construction for ways to improve the success rates of IT projects and achieve better alignment with their organizations' business goals.



Traditional structural design

If you consider the traditional process of planning and executing a building, it might go as follows:

The process begins with the customer having an understanding of the purpose and the related financial capabilities for his target. He then instructs one or several architects to come up with plans and scenarios of how to realize this. The architects take all known influencing factors into consideration and transform this into an architectural plan. This architectural blueprint already provides a thorough understanding of what the realization will look like, the time it will take to execute and the financial impact. On this basis, the customer selects his preferred solution and gives approval for execution. Only then does the construction company dig the building pit and starts construction work.

Traditional planning process for IT projects

As this is pretty straightforward, one could assume that IT projects follow the same path. However, reality reveals a very different picture. Even here it all starts with the customer (normally the business), which requests a new or a changed IT support. Normally, however, a detailed plan of what the new project (IT-building) will look like and how this fits into the overall IT architecture is not provided -- or even requested. The go/no-go decision is predominately made on the ROI calculation related to this project. After a go decision, project teams start digging the project pit and begin executing the project. While project teams erect the walls, IT-architects often only document what is going to be built or has been built.

The perfect IT planning process

Instead of a pure "project driven" planning approach, which many IT organizations run today, it makes a lot of sense for IT organizations to adopt something akin to the traditional structural design process. How might software solutions support this process in a way that it dramatically affects the success rate of IT projects?

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