How Is Digital Changing the Business Project Landscape?

Are digital projects really that different from the traditional projects? Well, yes and no. They still involve planning, delegating, tracking, reviewing, and measuring results. They do, however, often utilise project management software such as MS Project or AtTask.

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Yet the problems that plague traditional IT projects also affect digital projects. These include:

• Sponsor-driven decision delays
• Subject matter expertise bottlenecks
• Lack of clarity that speed should be a priority.

There are a number of attributes of digital projects that need to be taken into consideration by project management offices (PMOs) and IT leaders. These are outlined below.

1) The need for speed – companies making digital investments or carrying out digital tests can’t be slow. Accelerating projects requires the IT to go beyond changing these traditional delivery processes. PMOs are having to address these challenges to obtain speed gains when it comes to digital work.

2) Uncertain financial returns – digital investments are often experiments intended to test the viability of new models or to establish the existence/attractiveness of new markets. These experiments don’t really fit with traditional financial benefits quantification, which is central to the IT investment approval processes in many organisations. To facilitate more approvals, organisations need to redefine the concept of “value”.

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3) Increased business ownership in managing projects – on average, more than half of IT project work is now managed by either business partners or contractors. Leading organisations are able to adapt to meet project management needs across various business units and timescales.

4) Flexibility of funding – rapid testing and learning through digital experiments will mean that priorities are continually changing. To create the funding flexibility needed, progressive organisations are shifting towards an allocation of capital that aligns with the organisation’s most vital business capabilities.

5) Focusing on products over projects – a number of organisations operate or are moving towards product line-based modelling. This has led to a shift in the focus of funding, governance and resources from project level to product level.

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