Successful IT Projects Have One Thing in Common: Analysis

TomMaherDiagnostic Analysis is Key

By Tom Maher, Hayes Management Consulting
Twitter: @HayesManagement

We have all seen or heard about car mechanics performing repairs that do not fix the problem. The poor customer gets charged for a series of repairs, but the original problem remains unresolved. Problem solving in business or IT is no different. The key to effective IT projects is to understand the problem so that you can zero in on the specific cause and craft a targeted solution that addresses the root cause.

Big project or small project, diagnostic analysis is key

This lack of analysis is not limited to small efforts. Major projects in organizations are often brought to completion only to find that the organization has not impacted the problem it sought to address.

Just like a mechanic or a physician who is a professional at their craft, the key to understanding the real cause of a business or IT problem is to perform a diagnostic analysis.

Diagnostic Analysis

There are several things to consider when performing a diagnostic analysis.

  • Make a list of the symptoms and use them to delve deeper for the root cause or causes
  • Articulate your goals – what you are trying to accomplish?
  • Perform an analytical assessment and evaluate how well addressing the root causes that you have identified will help you accomplish your goals
  • Expand your analysis – what else might be necessary to accomplish your goals?
  • Iteratively examine your problems, root causes, goals and possible actions until you formulate next steps
  • Stay focused. Do not forget that some of those next steps need to involve continued iterative analysis until your problem is solved and your goal is achieved

Identify the problem before creating a solution

When I was a young analyst one of my mentors was a member of senior management and was always able to cut through the fog and get everyone focused on real solutions quickly. He always seemed like the smartest person in the room because his leadership always resulted in real progress. Eventually, as our relationship grew, I asked him how he could always be the first person to zero in on a solution. His answer was simple. “You can’t solve a problem that you don’t understand. Too many people try to come up with solutions before they understand the problem.”

This article was originally published in Hayes’ Healthcare Blog and is republished here with permission.