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The science of splitting up IT projects

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time — and big IT projects are no different. However, breaking up large IT projects in a poor manner can actually cause the entire project to fail ““ it’s more than just a matter of breaking up tasks and assigning people differently. Pete Swabey explains in detail how important it is to break up large IT projects correctly, along with real-world experience from Roger Sessions found while working on service-oriented architecture (SOA): There are many theories on why large IT projects fail: the technical complexity of large systems; the employee churn that inevitably occurs in lengthy projects; the simple fact that an unforeseen catastrophe is more likely to occur during a longer period of time. All point to a seemingly self- evident conclusion, that splitting large projects into smaller chunks reduces the risk of calamitous failure. This is easier said than done, of course. Dividing a single functioning system into smaller subsystems can, if done inexpertly, increase technical complexity and make the overall project harder to manage. The “science” of splitting up large projects comes down to recognizing the importance of interdependence and the promotion of synergy within a project. By identifying elements that contain synergy with others, you can more easily find interdependence and make sure to not slow (rather than speed) the large project’s completion.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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