IT Project Management and Design Thinking

design thinking and IT project managementSuccessful IT projects achieve deadlines and budget but also deliver real business results. Try this test: ask your IT project managers to articulate specific business outcomes that users expect. If the answers are murky or unclear, then perhaps it’s time to bring your team closer to the users. At Daysha we use Design Thinking to achieve this.

Design thinking is a process which applies both analytical and creative thinking towards solving a specific problem. Design thinking helps structure team interactions to cultivate greater inclusiveness, foster creativity, and shifts the teams focus to achievement of project outcomes as opposed to completion of individual tasks.

To get close to and understand the project customer, we use leading-edge innovation techniques to understand and define the best, most suitable set of functions to delight customers and end-users. Once we understand the customer’s needs we can plan a project and deliver detailed technical specifications.

The three phases we have identified are:

  • Concept Design: One of the challenges with traditional project management is the need, early on, to pick one alternate and run with it. It turns out that often we don’t know enough about the alternative and when it fails, due to an irreversible decision that we made, we can’t go back. It is far better to iterate over a number of alternatives as fast as possible before deciding which one will work. This approach requires a different way of thinking and planning your project. In this phase we would conduct workshops and interviews and produce early stage prototypes and feasibility studies that, between them, define the desired feature set and technical/business parameters
  • Technical Design: In this phase we define the specification that the execution teams will build. We also figure out how to ensure the solution being implemented is robust, that it reuses existing technology in a cost-effective way, and that it will be scalable. We produce detailed technical plans that the implementation teams can use, and we can check back in with the concept design prototypes to make sure the desired direction is maintained.
  • Execution: In this phase the project teams implement the technical design, delivering finished products and services that delight customers and end-users while maintaining a cost-effective, robust and scalable infrastructure that can be added to as the product life cycle matures.

There are many reasons for IT Project failures including poor communication, rigid thinking, propensity toward tunnel vision, and information silos. The design thinking approach incorporated into traditional forms of project management offers a means to address the underlying causes of many project failures.

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