The key to successful technology projects? People of course!

Not great technology and good project management?


Well, partly…but even they won’t lead to success without people doing what they need to do.


So, as you can probably tell from the title of this blog, I think the key to successful projects lies with people.


And whilst that’s true for all types of projects I’m going to focus on technology projects because

  • Projects involving the implementation of new technology are probably the most complicated of all as they often leave ‘no stone unturned’. New processes, new systems, new ways of working and often even new roles, responsibilities, or organisational structures.

  • Arguably they are also the most

  • Prone to ‘failure’ because of the complexity.

  • Common, given the digital era we live in and the relentless pace of technology innovation that we need to capitalise on for competitive advantage.

  • They are the types of projects I’m most familiar with and I’ve seen first-hand how people can make or break them.


Here's my simple view of technology projects:




The focus for the left-hand side is delivering the solution and particularly the technology.

  • It's the realm of project management.

  • It involves the IT project team, and normally one or more external consultants. Perhaps a systems integrator, technology vendor specialist and some independent, individual consultants.

The purpose of the project as a whole is to create a new 'Business as usual' that uses the solution created on the left.


The right-hand side is focused on the implementation of that.

  • This side is the realm of change management.

  • The purpose of this side is to make sure the people, processes and things that make up the business are ready to operate and sustain a new business as usual, from the go live date.

  • This side is made up of the business teams and will include

  • the business' stakeholders

  • the support teams that will support the solution from go live, and

  • may include some external change management consultants.

And where these two worlds overlap, you have the joint project team. An eclectic mix of all those individuals from different teams, with different

  • backgrounds,

  • cultures,

  • objectives,

  • ways of working,

  • languages

  • knowledge, skills, and experience

...all put together in a matrix-managed organisation, with responsibilities to the project team, as well as their own 'home' teams.

Just by considering this diagram, you can see that project success is dependent on ALL of these people:

  • the subject matter expertise they bring, and

  • how they perform, both

  • individually and

  • as part of connected teams.



For project success, you need everyone involved to

  • Be committed to the goal and the project plan to deliver it

  • Understand what they need to do and be able and motivated to do it

  • Work effectively together in interconnected teams

  • Be able to do all of that for the duration of the project until the goal is achieved


And that’s where the trouble lies.


The primary focus for project management tends to be things rather than people

  • the technology

  • the plan

  • time

  • cost

  • quality

  • risks

  • governance arrangements

  • benefits realisation etc.


And it’s easy to assume that with good project management, people will ‘naturally’ do and behave as we expect them to, perhaps with the help of a project kick off to really get people on board.


Unfortunately, that’s not a valid assumption and in my experience, it’s certainly not what happens.


People don’t ‘naturally’ do or behave how we expect them to in a project environment and that causes issues and puts project success at risk.


So, what’s the answer?


Assume the opposite and proactively focus on people!


Understand why people aren’t likely to naturally do what you need them to do and take specific action to support them, so they can and will instead.





If you’d like to explore how to do that, you can find out more on the Projects and People Support page of my website or book a free call to explore this with me. You might also want to check out my other related project blogs.


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