I felt a need to elaborate a little on my previous post “Three Questions to Answer Yes to Before Starting an IT Project” where I argue that the probability of project success depends on how well you know the business, the technology and the people that are to be involved in the project. So here are a few examples of how it will help a project manager to make the project successful.
When you know the business...
...you don't have to spend a lot of time and energy on learning and trying to understand the business
...you can avoid misunderstandings since you have enough knowledge about the business context to interpret what stakeholders really want
...you can focus on the goals and deliverables of the project
...you know the politics of the organization and can hopefully manoeuvre the project to avoid major political conflicts
...you know who actually makes the decisions and can anchor the project and requirements with those stakeholders
When you know the technology...
...you know what skills to require from your team members
...it is likely that the technology is mature and proven and thereby less like to cause problems to the project
...the capabilities and limitations of that technology are well known which makes it easier to capture realistic requirements
When you know the people...
...you know what they are capable of and can put together a team that has all the capabilities you need in the project
...people tend to compensate each others weaknesses and complement strengths
...you don't have to spend a lot of hours and energy learning to know each other
... territorial pissings and conflicts within the project team are less likely to occur
...you know how to communicate with each other and can focus on communicating what is necessary instead of everything
If the business, the technology and/or the people is unknown to you or any of your team members, then you know where to expect problems and can focus your risk management efforts in these areas.