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How to avert a catastrophe

December 17, 2014

Ever had someone promise you that things would be ‘fine’ or ‘simple’ and be completely underwhelmed?

Ever placed your trust in a provider to deliver what they say they will, when they say they will? If so, has it ever completely burnt you to the point where you no longer want to do business with them?

This happened to a good friend of mine, articulately relayed to me in every last excruciating detail over dinner last week.

His position? Internal IT liaison in a business of approximately 30 office staff. He is not qualified in IT, his main role is as a lawyer – but he is skilled enough to talk the lingo and provide a valuable in-house resource to his employers.

He was explaining the inner workings of a large-scale server and email migration that they had contracted an IT company to perform for them.

To cut to the chase, the project was completed more than 4 months after the original planned date, there were almost 3 full days of chaos and downtime at the point of changeover, and my friend clocked up an excessive amount of hours managing the project from within.

The weekend of “go live”, he did not move from his laptop for the whole weekend, eager to see that things were moving to his satisfaction. They weren’t.

This led to an untold amount of stress and huge reductions in his personal productivity. It caused massive downtime losses for his company and tested the extent of some relationships in the process.

His five golden rules to avert a catastrophe, made clear in no uncertain terms were:

  1. Never enter into a project without a clear plan including start dates, end dates, and key milestones.
  2. Ensure you have clear communication channels with key people on the project at all times.
  3. Never allow a 3rd party provider to run a project without adhering to the project plan AND providing timely updates on progress and ETA of key milestones.
  4. Never enter into a project with a provider where you do not feel you are that providers number one priority.
  5. Do your homework on your provider. This is absolutely key. What outcomes have they achieved for other businesses? Seek out a trusted colleague, friend, or industry specialist who will vouch for them.

If you miss these basic steps, you might find yourself losing hair, losing sleep, and costing your business a whole lot of money and energy.

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