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Tips for Managing Large-Scale IT Projects

By Tara Mitchell, PMP, AINS - IIAT Director

If your agency is like most business organizations, converting to the cloud is your top IT priority. In a study by Devo Technology, a security analytics company, as many as 81% of organizations revealed that COVID-19 had accelerated their cloud timelines. The reasons for converting are well known by now. Using the cloud removes many of the security risks of having your own data center, hardware, network, and software.

Managing a large-scale IT project from start to finish, like converting to the cloud, is a daunting task that requires focused planning and execution every step of the way. Whether your agency is making the leap to the cloud or redesigning your website, here are some tips that can help:

Define scope and determine goals

To start with, in terms of business and IT execution, it is best to limit annual initiatives for transformation to no more than three strategic priorities, and to expect each of those three projects to get 100%/80%/60%, respectively, of effort and resources. In other words, too many priorities will not move the needle. Before you decide what to tackle, always ask two questions:

  1. What are we doing?
  2. Why are we doing it?

Gather input and get buy-in

When investing in projects related to technology or otherwise, be sure to breakdown silos and use cross-functional teams to gain new insights and diverse perspectives. A social hour with the entire team can help document ideas and then decide on the top priorities for the year. Most of the time, strategy is not the missing link, it is the execution of that strategy where projects fail.

It’s important to work backwards from the customer’s perspective and make sure you are solving real problems. Leaders must contemplate their bottom lines and aim for five to 10 percent growth in their operating objectives per year. To accomplish this, it is important to bring vision to realized value with codified and structured frameworks.

Plan your resources

Use a project manager to help with transformative projects, invest in the team’s dedicated workspace and tools to accomplish the work, and assign the appropriate resources needed. It’s also important to have a supportive and proactive sponsor who can remove obstacles and empower the team to make decisions. Be sure to measure progress and realize that not everything that can be measured should be measured – Focus on what matters most to achieve the outcomes desired.

Technology advancements have been in a phase of exponential acceleration. The average lifespan of 30 years on the S&P is decreasing and the average is now decelerating with the number of disruptors in the market. Change is inevitable, and change management is key and can be elevated by thinking of the customer experience first, knowing it is worth it and why it is being done. Metered funding of projects will help to ensure you have the resources at each step that you need and keep from overengineering solutions.

Finally, a few lessons learned:

  1. Breakthrough business goals, are almost always, technology goals.
  2. Start small, and don’t expect perfection.
  3. Fewer change initiatives often deliver more impact to your customers.
  4. Have the right framework and the right team to execute and de-risk failure.

About the author

IIAT Director Tara Mitchell, PMP, AINS, oversees the association’s IT and Operations and provides technology consulting for agencies and carriers. She managed IIAT’s technology transformation during the pandemic, resulting in the team converting seven on-premises platforms to the cloud and modernizing workflows for streamlining and efficiency. Tara has a deep background in insurance compliance and project management, previously working for both the Texas Department of Insurance Financial Regulation Division and serving as the Chief Information Officer for the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas. Tara is also a member of the Austin Women in Technology (AWT), where she serves as a mentor to fellow women in technology.

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Tara Mitchell

Director of IT and Project Management