The Project Triangle

There’s almost always a triangle involved when a technology project of any kind gets underway – the business side, the IT side and the vendor side. It isn’t always a stool setup where removing one leg guarantees that the entire structure will topple. Sometimes the project is so simple, or they have enough expertise in house, that the IT department can handle the entire process on their own. On a rare occasion, the business side is not involved for whatever reason – perhaps the IT folks are the business owners and don’t need any other input.

But in most cases, particularly around content management projects, there’s a deep need for all three corners of the triangle to be involved from start to finish. The IT team does a lot of the actual installation and integration with other systems, the vendor supports the IT side with product expertise and configuration assistance, all of it driven by a business team that has very clear needs and provides important feedback on the technical results produced by the other two. Or at least that’s how it SHOULD work.

The practical realities of most technology projects are a lot more complicated. Sometimes the business has no idea what it’s actually trying to accomplish; sometimes the IT folks simply cannot understand the impact and importance of the project; sometimes the vendor is working so hard to close a deal they’re unprepared for the actual effort to accomplish the promises made along the way. In all cases, across all parts of the triangle, competing priorities and demands distract the team from the successful completion of the project. The trap opens wide, and suddenly your 3-6 month project becomes 12-18 months and tens of thousands of dollars (or worse) over budget.

The solution lies in preparation. Yogi Berra’s line about “Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical” is absolutely critical for successful technology projects. You’ll get much, much further with your project if you’ve collectively figured out what you want to accomplish long before a single tool is configured. (Jarrod Gingras of Real Story Group discussed this a few years back at a Streaming Media West presentation – definitely worth a watch.)

Know what you want to do; know what you need in hand to do what you want to do; prepare for the unthinkable and unknowable, and partner with the other corners of the triangle. Your project’s success depends on it.