IT GovernanceRisk Management

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.

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