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Partner News: Lessons Learned from a Failed IT Project

Recently I did a review of a failed IT project for a large Not for Profit.  The organisation spent over a year preparing and going to market with an RFT (Request for Tender) only to find that they couldn’t afford the solution.

When I met with the Board later, the Chair asked me for the key lessons learned that they needed for the second attempt at this massive transformation program.  My answer to him was the same advice that I would give to any client planning to purchase an IT solution:

  • Don’t try to heavily customise a system to meet your needs.

Instead, it’s more affordable to:

  1. Find “fit for purpose” solutions that already fulfil those requirements; and/or
  2. Change your own processes to match the system; and
  3. Where data must be shared, tie them together with integrations rather than expecting one system to meet all needs.
  • There are better ways to get pricing information than through an RFT process.

I remember the days when I was sitting on the other side of the old fashion Tender (proposal) Box. Once the deadline passed, we would dump all the Tenders on a conference table, eagerly opening them to the pricing schedule in the back.

We always had just one question on our minds, “Could we afford what we asked for?”

The RFT process is archaic yet is still widely used today.

If you’re an Association that would rather spend your resources on your mission rather than on this document, then check out my article, “How Associations make good IT investments without an RFT.”

Tammy Ven Dange of Roundbox Consulting is a former charity CEO, Not for Profit Board Member and IT Executive. Today she helps Associations with IT decisions.



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