REVIEW: It's not about the software

Randal Jackson reviews two books on the state of IT

New Zealand-born author Sarah Runge has taken the unusual step of software-ising her book Stop Blaming the Software, which allows the user to develop an online corporate profile based on methods described in the book.

First published in 2009 in the United States, the focus of Stop Blaming the Software is about the concept of corporate profiling, a methodology that aims to achieve IT project success. Current global estimates put the rate of IT project success at only one out of three, with the rest falling into the failed, cancelled or “massively challenged” categories.

Runge describes corporate profiling as an IT project pre-implementation planning tool for executives and business people who are committed to their IT project’s successful delivery. It’s about taking a high-level enterprise architecture model and marrying it with a business or process analysis framework, then targeting business people.

Runge, who spent six years in the US where she engaged in consulting to large organisations such as Boeing, wrote her book based on an MBA thesis and hands-on consulting experience. She is a business consultant specialising in corporate profiling for IT projects. She is also the co-founder of two IT companies.

“My approach ... comes from the perspective of pre-implementation planning analysis rather than the technical aspects of IT project implementation,” she says in the book’s preface. “It identifies what needs to be done within the organisation pre-implementation to increase a project’s probability of success. This pre-implementation planning and decision making by C-level executives is critical to ensure that the organisation is set up for IT project success at the outset.”

She addresses the disciplines involved in corporate profiling.

“Once a project is underway, organisations are past the point of no return and are no longer able to return to the planning phase,” she says. “It is imperative, therefore, that agreement must be reached on what needs to be done during a project, what else is required, and who is responsible for what aspects before the project commences.

“If project requirements are not firmly established up front, change processes are not put in place, and people are not made accountable for input and decisions at the outset of the project, system changes will inevitably be required, resulting in the dreaded scope creep.”

In her chapter headed “Scapegoating” she says: “When IT implementations become rogue, runaway projects or fail to deliver, organisations generally demand scapegoats.” Or as an unknown author is quoted: “A good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem.”

Runge says she has tried to create a handbook and guide rather than yet another project management reference manual. It is certainly a lucid and commonsense approach to entering into a project.

Stop Blaming the Software is endorsed by Mainfreight CIO Kevin Drinkwater, who describes it as a must-read for executives from CEOs down on how to prevent IT project disasters.

The Profiling-Pro cloud-based software provides Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) drill-down reports that identify potential project issues. The software was launched this month and offers a complimentary trial for users. Details and log-ins are available at

No Wishing Required is a novelised look at a project team dealing with the complex world of enterprise software implementations. It’s the story of a project manager dealing with a major system implementation that is on the brink of failure, and the challenges of the company’s multi-step system upgrade/transformation project. The buzz words are “collaborative intervention”.

Author Rob Prinzo is a project management and software implementation author, consultant and entrepreneur, who uses the fictional story to take the reader through a step-by-step process, along with the tools and techniques for project leadership.

Prinzo is large in his claim that collaborative intervention is the only methodology designed to avert project failure before it occurs. “Collaborative intervention is pretty tricky and relies more on our ability to change and influence human behaviour than on our abilities to update a project dashboard or conduct a fit-gap session. It also requires project leadership, not just project management,” he writes in his preface. The book’s chapters are two-part: first the ongoing story, then the author’s comments about real-life similar situations and how they were addressed.

As much as anything, it’s about understanding others and communicating appropriately.

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