According Standish Group’s 2015 Chaos report, only 29 percent of IT projects can be labelled successful - that is, they have been on time, on budget and have delivered satisfactory results. Anyone who has worked on IT projects would not find this surprising.
It is well accepted that delivering successful IT project requires more than just great technical expertise. The 2015 Chaos report has identified several key factors for IT project success after analysing over 50,000 projects worldwide, and the top three are Executive Sponsorship, Emotional Maturity - which includes skills for collaboration, consensus-building and management of expectations, and User Involvement.
Incorporating Design Thinking principles into enterprise IT solutions can go a long way to bring in these factors and improve success rates for IT projects.
The Design Thinking framework combines elements of creative thinking, technological expertise and consumer understanding to develop innovative solutions. Often referred a human-centered approach, design thinking closely observes and understands user requirements which builds empathy for their needs and uses this to define the problem accurately.
Based on this shared understanding, solutions are developed by working together and identified. It is an iterative process, which encourages testing of ideas for solutions before settling on the final solution and works especially well in IT projects when combined with agile approach. The design thinking process thus brings add value by facilitating improved collaboration and communication that helps overcome typical project issues.
The following 5 reasons make it clear why design thinking is vital for project success:
Helps Articulation of a Common Understanding of Problem: A fundamental issue that IT projects often battle is unclear objectives, which often leads to poor end-functionality. The design thinking process circumvents this by having in-depth discussions and workshops in the initial phases to identify the issues to be addressed and agree on the program objective
Ensures Involvement of All Key Participants: IT projects often hit a roadblock when collaboration and support from all those involved - stakeholders and participants – drops off. Executive sponsorship in particular is a key ingredient for success. Design thinking’s structure ensures that all core participants including top management, remain involved in the project’s process, bringing them together at appropriate intervals like key milestones ensuring everybody’s inputs and buy-in
User Inputs Given Precedence: The defining characteristic of design thinking is having the user at the heart of the process. User requirements are understood through observation and discussions, resulting in project results that are intuitive and provide solutions to even their unexpressed problems
Emphasis on Collaboration Through Project Stages: The Design Thinking framework ensures that there is constant collaboration and communication across teams and stakeholders facilitating alignment in expectations and results
Risk Identification Is Made Easier: The iterative nature of the design thinking approach ensures that functionality and final results are evaluated by users and other stakeholders at regular intervals which helps in flagging off risks at the initial stages itself
By using Design Thinking principles, IT projects thus bring in a spirit of co-creation that boosts success rates.