Make a success of every IT project

With Design Thinking, you prevent failure

Failing IT projects have been a topic of conversation in the Netherlands for years and are often accompanied by significant financial losses. Unfortunately, there is hardly ever one demonstrable reason for project failure, but numerous factors play a major role. In this series, we look at the background and possible solutions together with experts to determine how to prevent this in future projects. It is time to make a success of every IT project!

Experts tell you how to start an IT project ready to go. Also how to get the business involved and why razor-sharp objectives are indispensable. In the first part of this series, Jonathan Wigmans (Lead UX Designer at LINKIT) explains why IT projects fail. As well how to minimize the risk of failure by applying Design Thinking. “Because by tackling the preliminary phase well, you prevent failures,” says Jonathan.

Causes of failed projects

A failed project is a fear for every organization. Of course, failure can have different causes, but there are also common reasons, explains Jonathan. “Often, it concerns poor planning, unrealistic deadlines or a lack of quality assurance. Causes that lead to dissatisfaction of customers, users and employees.”

Another reason IT projects could be faster is the need for more stakeholder involvement. Jonathan: “When stakeholders are not sufficiently involved in the project, relevant input is missing. This results in a lack of direction and insufficient connection to their needs.”

Embrace the actual problem.

So it starts with identifying and embracing the actual problem, whereby the solution to be developed must add value to the (end) users. “Often it is not clear in advance which problem needs to be solved. Therefore, with the result that a maze of ‘solutions’ arises and applications are used that do not do what they are supposed to do.”

One of the ways to get your IT project off to a good start and complete it is Design Thinking. This process-oriented approach to problem-solving (and innovation) focuses on understanding user needs and creating solutions that meet those needs. Jonathan: “Think of it as a framework that you work with as a designer so that you can solve problems in a targeted and effective way.”

“Think of it as a framework that you work with like a designer so that you can solve problems in a targeted and effective way.”

Practical, strategic method

Design Thinking is a practical, strategic method to determine if you are on the right track. “Is what we are doing the right thing? Does it have the impact we want?”. In contrast to, for example, the Scrum method (aimed at building and developing things), with Design Thinking, you determine the right direction. Design Thinking is also seen as the preliminary phase, after which Scrum can be used to develop the product.

This methodology consists of several principles: empathy (understanding the users and their problem experience), definition (defining the problem), ideating (generating ideas to solve the problem), prototype (developing a prototype) and last, the test (testing the product with the users).

“During the process, we get into the heads of the users so that we understand them. In this way, creative solutions are created that meet the actual needs and wishes of the user,” says Jonathan. “Moreover, this method results in higher employee satisfaction, improved efficiency and more (company) innovation. Because all those involved have contributed to the solution. The final product.”

Looking for the core question

Design Thinking can help prevent a failing IT project is evident from Jonathan’s example. “We went through an intensive process with a customer who is active in laying pipes for hot and cold water in office buildings. These buildings often have a surface area of 20,000 m2 to 50,000 m2. As well numerous bends, different thicknesses and connection and termination points in the piping system. All these variables (more than half a million in total, ed.) were recorded in an Excel sheet. Their question was, therefore, whether we could develop a more efficient solution for this.”

But instead of haphazardly developing an application in which all data would be bundled, it was much more interesting for Jonathan and his team to know the problem behind the Excel sheet. “After several sessions with the customer, it turned out that there were several Excel versions in circulation. They were incomplete, and knowledge of Excel was not widely spread throughout the organization. So together, we intensively searched for the cause of the problem and formulated a key question from which we started developing and testing. In about three months, we ultimately developed an application within LINKIT that all end users were enthusiastic about. So that it would allow them to work much more efficiently.”

Uncork champagne

“Within LINKIT, we have the knowledge of Design Thinking, and our team can even develop a prototype solution within a week,” says Jonathan. “We call this the ‘Design Sprint‘, a four-day workshop in which we quickly get from idea to tested solution together with the customer. It was an intensive week, but almost indispensable to solve a problem together (with the business and IT).

Prevent failed IT projects

Do you want to stay informed about this series and learn everything about preventing failing IT projects? Then follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to receive a notification when a new part of this series is published.

Would you instead contact an expert directly? Don’t hesitate to contact us because we would be happy to tell you more about the possibilities of Design Thinking and other ways to bring your project to a successful conclusion.

Jonathan Wigmans, Lead UX Designer

Jonathan (40) studied Public Administration and now works as Lead UX Designer at LINKIT. With his colleagues, he helps companies bring their IT projects to a successful conclusion, in which Design Thinking plays a significant role.

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