A few years back, when I was building my IT consultancy, I won a major client. It was a big name UK company with a turnover of over $200 million and an established IT team. They wanted some outside expertise to help them with an office move of major functions, including the finance team. It was a dream contract for me to win.
I was inexperienced, so I didn’t do any due diligence. I was assured that the project plan was in place and my part was to get the new servers built and installed, and so I appointed two experienced Microsoft engineers to work on the server builds, installs, and upgrades.
Things started to go wrong early on. My engineers found major system flaws, no backups running, and messy cables. When they walked into the (unlocked) comms room, a server nearly fell off the top of a cupboard onto their heads. The server was running their firewall software. The network was very unstable and nowhere near ready for a move.
One example of the problems we had was when the network manager told my engineer to install Windows Server 2003 onto the server, and then, the head of IT came in the next day and shouted that it should be Server 2000, so he had to start again. How could they not know which software they needed?
I realized that the entire infrastructure was a disaster waiting to happen, and I got the feeling that my company had been put in there to take the fall.
I called an emergency meeting with the head of IT and the network manager and asked for the project management plans. It transpired that they had none. They were moving the entire IT infrastructure for a $200 million company with 20 offices and 500 staff and had no plan. I insisted on one urgently, and the next day, I was sent a spreadsheet by the head of IT saying this:
Day 1-3: Install server software
Day 3-4: Install and test servers
Day 5-10: Support servers
Yep. That was it.
The entire project went horribly wrong, of course, and the next 18 months were spent in a dirty court battle that almost cost me my sanity and nearly bankrupted my company. I eventually won and could move on with my life.
I came away with some very valuable lessons, as you can imagine, but a big one was having a proper project plan. I’ve said before that nothing happens without a network designer and recommended the Cisco CCDA, but often, the network is already in place and there is a major change required. This needs somebody who can manage the project. It could be you if you have some basic skills in place.
The industry-leading software to plan and manage projects is Microsoft Project, and we have just added the Managing Projects with Microsoft Project 2013 74-343 course to the site. The course has been created by one of the leading MS Project trainers in the UK and will teach you everything you need to know to get your project up and running, as well as bring it to a successful conclusion.
I strongly recommend you have project management skills on your resume to make yourself a well-rounded IT engineer. It could well save your company from a disaster.