Leaders in the ever-changing in- surance market understand the need to modernize their technol- ogy by leveraging more modern
platforms. They also know that emerging
technologies have added significant complexity, requiring multiple system integrations and various regulatory requirements.
The industry has come a long way in
adopting good project management procedures to modernize legacy systems and
build new platforms and systems. Some
have even adopted the concept of project
management offices to formalize procedures into a repeatable format within
Project managers may boast about
their adherence to best practices in proj-
ect development and product delivery,
but what exactly does that mean? And,
if project managers are onboard with
best practice techniques in the delivery
of projects, then why are critical projects
still failing and causing significant losses
in the industry?
First, let’s define best practices in project management. These are techniques
or methodologies based on research and
numerous successful projects, resulting
in delivered systems that exceed expectations. According to the American Productivity and Quality Center, the three
main barriers to adoption of best practice
•;Lack of knowledge of business processes: Project teams are reluctant to
take the time to document the current
processes, both automated and manual.
How you can determine future processes if you are not familiar with how the
current ones work?
• Limited desire to make necessary
changes: Insurers who do not embrace
changes in the industry and who insist
on doing things the way they have al-
ways done them often cause their own
failures. Change is inevitable. How an
insurer adopts the changes in method-
ology says a great deal about their views
on technology and their definition of
•;Unskilled technology resources: New
technologies require IT professionals
to keep pace with developments in the
industry. Gone are the days when an IT
development team knows only its area of
expertise. Modern technology requires
broader, skill-based developers who are
experienced in integrating applications
to different delivery platforms and who
understand, at a minimum, how the
software fits into the environment.
Taking this a step further, even if all of
these barriers have been overcome and
project teams have adhered to best practices, they still seem to miss the mark in
delivering products and platforms that
meet expected results.
IT leaders explain that overcoming
the main barriers and adhering to best
practice techniques sometimes are just
not enough. In analyzing failed projects,
the PMI Institute provided a white paper
on the topic of quality of project delivery.
Within the study, key adopters discussed
three primary factors they found in failed
projects: scope issues, quality of developed products and continuous performance measurements.
The insurance industry, in a push to catch
up to advances in technology and gain a
competitive edge quickly, chooses to define the entire scope of large systems in
the initial delivery of a project. Technology vendors take on engagements and
often neglect to spend sufficient time in
the up-front planning and requirements-gathering phases of projects.
The primary reasons given for this lack
of time commitment are aggressive schedules to complete the work and an effort to
minimize costs for the client. The result
is a lack of understanding of detailed requirements from a business perspective.
Even though the technology meets best
practices in system development, it fails
in satisfying the speed, scalability and
Can IT Projects
Fail when Following
By Maria Zabetakis