2016. The year the IT infrastructure project as we knew it died. But there will be no mourners and it will not be missed. It always over-promised and consistently under-delivered. It was rarely on-time and never within budget. It was designed to give businesses a competitive edge, but instead it always left them hamstrung.
Management consultants McKinsey and Company claim that on average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted. Why would any business sign up for that?
Having worked on IT projects for many years I found myself asking the question: why? Why do organisations accept something this inefficient? Why can’t we simply reap the benefits of transformational IT instead of diluting its effectiveness with awkward, time-consuming projects?
Let’s look at an example. A dot-com enterprise wants to move to a private cloud infrastructure. The cost model favours private over public cloud. It is aiming to encourage DevOps and allow for seamless building, testing and deployment of code. Being able to easily spin up development environments is going to save the company a huge amount of time and resource, and ultimately have a positive impact on the bottom line.
Enter the IT project, the antithesis of speed and agility. A job like this could take anything between six and 24 months. That might mean up to two full years before these developers can work on the platform they need.
Here’s a potential timeline. Ordering all the different parts and unboxing them on-site could take up the first two months. Putting them together could be another three months. Add another month to this, because the IT manager who is overseeing the project was off on an extended holiday.
Configuring is up next. That’s another three months. Testing could be anything up to six months. And the IT manager was off-work again which put a stop to things for another month.
When you break it down like this it quickly becomes apparent that a huge amount of time and money is being wasted and there is zero value being added to the organisation. By the time the project is complete the business objectives may have changed – lessening the impact of the results. Technology that seemed initially ground-breaking may have become outdated, and other important strategic focuses might have been pushed aside as a result.
Where there are inefficiencies, there are always opportunities for disruption. IT projects are the black cabs, and Uber has been waiting in the wings.
What does the IT project’s Uber look like? Let’s go back to the example of private cloud. What if instead of building it on-site, businesses simply bought the technologies ready-made and ready to use? What if it had been pre-validated, pre-integrated and pre-tested? Rather than building, they’d simply be buying. Rather than a project we’d be looking instead at a product. Private cloud as a product.
These off-the-rack – yet tailored – products can be shipped to the client site, plugged in and be ready to go almost immediately.
It’s this disruption that has delivered the fatal blow to the IT infrastructure project. Instead of a two-year timeline, you’re instead looking at around one month: just 28 days from an order being placed to the ready for use date. An agile solution to support the modern agile enterprise.
The IT infrastructure project is dead. Long live the IT product.