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Avoiding IT Project Failure: It's Really Not That Hard!

By Craig Dennis

Everybody thinks that their project is unique. Maybe that’s true but the underlying causes of project failure usually have lot in common. When you know what the causes are you can usually avoid them and maximise your chances of success.

Projects go wrong for the same reasons all the time. There are no new sins. We can look at a project in its first two months and know if it will be a success or not. — Nick Dean, Managing Director at Professional Values

So what do you need to do when faced with poor initiation, weak control, lack of staffing, risks, issues and unrealistic expectations?

Here’s five common trouble spots and tips to avoid them.

Read more...
 
ShadowProtect to the Rescue!

A while ago we got a call from someone with a non booting computer. The poor bloke was concerned because, of course, they didn’t have a recent backup of the main application they use to run their business! Since we knew there was critical data, the team's first process before troubleshooting the issue was to pull the drive and hook it up to a computer at the AchieveIT office and attempt data access. Fortuantely we were able to access the drive without issue and quickly backed up the application data. Once we had that, we used our preferred backup tool, Storagecraft's ShadowProtect, to create a full image backup of the drive.

We still had a few issues to work through but finally Windows booted to the login screen. We couldn’t log in though because of activation issues (Thanks Microsoft). But based on that successful boot up we grabbed an old hard drive and performed a restoration of the image to that drive. Once completed, it was hooked up to the computer and Windows booted up AND allowed us to log in. The customer verfied that everything worked. He was thrilled when he saw all his data in the app.

Give us a call on 1300 22 48 48 or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to discuss your backup concerns. We can even manage your backups for you! And don't forget the golden rule: If your data doesn't exist in three different places, preferably in three different forms, then you can't claim to be protected.

 
Benefits of Reviewing Projects (before they end!)
By Paul Eldridge - Senior Project Manager

WE'VE ALL HEARD plenty about why projects fail. Here's a top ten list of famous last words:

Read more...
 

The Glossary

Deliverable [dih-liv-er-uh-buh l]

A deliverable is any tangible outcome that is produced by the project. All projects create deliverables.

These can be documents, plans, computer systems, buildings, aircraft, etc. Internal deliverables are produced as a consequence of executing the project and are usually needed only by the project team. External deliverables are those that are created for clients and stakeholders.

Your project may create one or many deliverables.

 
The True Cost of IT Support

The True Cost of IT Support

First up, I need to apologise in advance to the many hardworking and professional IT Administrators who are keeping many Aussie Small to Medium Busineses running. This is not targeted at you!

Many SMEs rely on what I call “Accidental IT Administrators” to keep their systems afloat. We all know them - the keen hobbyists, the advanced Excel users, the Marketing girl who is a champion at running mail merges. Quite often, the responsibility has nothing to do with interest - it comes with the job. For some reason Accountants and Office Managers seemed to be automatically endowed with some of that mysterious “computer knowledge”!

It might be a broad generalisation, but in our experience these guys rarely have any meaningful skills, experience or knowledge. They're just a bit better than the rest of the team. They are also employed to do something else - so every time there's an IT issue they are distracted from the main role. It's a sad fact, but we often get calls from prospective clients after they have been off the air for three days while the CFO has been poking around trying to fix things. (No, we not sure why three days is the magic number either!) The tragedy is that generally we could have got them back up and running in minutes or hours if we'd been allowed first crack at the problem. Usually it takes us as long again to locate and undo the damage that dozens of “maybe I'll try that's” have inflicted on the system.

Let's analyse this. A total of six days of company downtime. If you have 20 staff on an average salary of $75k that's around $6,000 in costs. How much business did you lose during that time? How much credibility did you lose with your customers? There could be an revenue impact of around $60k if your company does $3 million annually. Our costs, depending on whether we only worked office hours or we put on a 24 hour tiger team could range anywhere from $4k through to a whopping $60k!

That's painful. And it might be an example of what happens when business owners don't understand the risks they are exposing themselves to.

So what's the alternative I hear you ask? There's two obvious ones employ a strong IT Administrator or engage an IT managed Services Provider to look after you. What you need is dependent on your requirements - how many systems and desktops you have, how much downtime you can afford, whether your hardware and software is up to date and so on. What we can say with some confidence is that a good quality systems Administrator will cost more than $100k per year. You'll need to have enough work to keep him or her busy and mentally engaged otherwise they'll seek career fulfilment and development elsewhere. You'll need to work out how you'll cover for leave and other absences.

Alternatively, engaging a good managed service provider could be a strong option. Depending on your size and needs it might be cheaper - but you'll get access to broader and deeper specialist skills. Response times will be subject to formal service level agreements. Your “IT Team” can be available to you 24x7x365 if that's what you need.

And either way, your CFO will be able to focus on his proper job for five days of every week!

Why not give us a call on 1300 22 48 48 (or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) to discuss your IT issues. Quite often five minutes of advice can prevent a lot of heartache later.

If you'd like to talk about your IT Adminstration strategy please call us on 1300 22 48 48 (or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). We'll be more than happy to help you work through the issues confidentially and with no obligation.

And if you want to get a feel for the way that we may be able to help you directly please jump across to our tech support page.

 
Office 365 - Team Work

Keep teams in sync

Collaboration is the way business gets done today, but the challenge of collaboration is keeping everyone working together on the most recent version of a document. You know how much time is wasted when that doesn’t happen. Office 365 gives you many different ways to help ensure that everyone can find exactly the files they need fast and that all team members are moving forward together. It's easy to create workspaces for each of your projects - big or small.

 

Organise project email

Keep project emails and shared documents together in one place with a project-specific mailbox only team members can access, so no time is wasted searching for what you need.

 

Use team sites for projects

Manage who has access to the team site. Automatic policies, rights protection, and archiving help safeguard your team assets.

 

Build blogs and wikis

Share ideas using blogs and wikis to build team unity and project momentum. To help track the progress of projects, you can assign tasks across a team and see them on a timeline.

 

Wrapping it up

Office 365 propels Microsoft into the Internet age and gives businesses the flexibility they need, coupled with access to the Office applications that the business world demands. Keep an eye on this blog for further details about Office 365. But in the meantime, if you'd like to take Office 365 for a spin, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and we'll happily arrange a 30 day trial.

 
What is a Business Continuity Program (BCP)?

BCP has been around for a long time but has gone through a major evolution in the last 10 years. There have been a number of drivers who at times pushed this confusion along. However, there are some major factors which have turned to be a lot more influential than others. In fact, the most influential practices which have contributed to importance of BCP today are:

Read more...
 
The Accidental IT Administrator

Ever built a house without a tradie?

I don't know about you, but when I watch a good tradesman it looks easy. Surely I could build that frame, tile that floor or pitch that roof? In fact, I probably could - if I had 10 or 20 times as much time to spare and I was willing to compromise on quality!

But when it comes to our business - managing and supporting corporate grade information technology - it's amazing to see how many “weekend warriors” create issues and problems that end up in our lap. I think the trouble is that most of us have PCs and wireless networks at home - which makes us all experts!

 

The reality is often different and can be expensively so.

 

As far as I'm concerned, IT is one place where a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. Arm a CFO or Office Manager with a systems administration password and access to Google and problems won't be too far away.

Ask yourself what would happen if your team couldn't work for an hour, a day or a week because your “accidental” systems manager made an inadvertent mistake? And what if your IT provider had to spend a heap of time finding the small fault because your guy didn't even realise that he'd created a problem somewhere downstream?

Yes…. This is a bit of a plug for our Managed IT Services practice, but more importantly I want to raise the profile of the risks that many small to medium businesses are exposing themselves to.

Why not give us a call on 1300 22 48 48 (or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) to discuss your IT issues. Quite often five minutes of advice can prevent a lot of heartache later.

Thanks for reading this far - next time I'm going to take a look at the true cost of IT support.

 
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