In previous IoT Insights articles, we have discussed IoT project blockers including infrastructure, security and system integrators (SIs). However, a common factor that is often overlooked is including the relevant stakeholders in key decisions, from initial discussions through to a project rollout. There are multiple stakeholders to consider with a number of those listed below.
Understanding the customers’ needs from the outset and proposing a solution to a customer defined problem is critical for any project. It may seem an obvious thing to say, but the customer is the most important stakeholder in any project, but some organisations present the “art of the possible” to a customer before discussing their needs.
Suppliers are key to every project, particularly when hardware is involved. The availability of products and pricing quoted by a supplier can often be a deciding factor as to whether a customer wants to move forwards with a project, or whether they want to look for alternative solutions. It is vital that realistic pricing and lead times are presented early on so as not to waste the supplier or customer time.
End users are often overlooked by their organisation when it comes to defining or selecting a solution. When purchasing a solution, an organisation should determine what goals they wish to accomplish and involving the end users is pertinent. There are many reasons for involving the end user including their knowledge of, and proximity to, the problem make them best qualified to give suggestions for how to fix those problems.
A project manager (PM) is responsible for day-to-day management of the project and must be competent in managing the six aspects of a project, i.e. scope, schedule, finance, risk, quality and resources. Project managers work on specific projects that have definite outcomes, have time limits and have to stay within a budget. It can also be argued that it is the responsibility of the PM to manage the relationships between all stakeholders.
Budget overruns have always been a litmus test for project success or failure. As such, effective budget management is a primary area of focus for organisations. It is also key for the budget holder to revisit, review and re-forecast the budget if the scope of a solution changes. Scope creep is one of the leading causes of project overruns and it is the finance department’s role to manage the budget regarding any increase (or decrease).
Human Resources (HR)
For some solutions, such as people counting, Human Resources may have to deal with reservations from employees and potential GDPR issues. Before any solution is signed off, it is important to discuss the solution with HR to qualify out any reservations they may have. Barclays scrapped a system that tracked the time employees spent at their desks and sent warnings to those spending too long on breaks, following colleague feedback. If HR has been involved in the consultation process before the solution was implemented, time, money and employee issues could have been avoided.
Information Security (infosec) Department
A customer and solution provider could define an IoT solution, but if it doesn’t meet the required infosec standards, the solution will not be installed. Information security is “the practice of preventing unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, inspection, recording or destruction” of sensitive records. As IoT solutions regularly include connectivity and sensitive data, implementing information security in an organisation can protect the technology and information assets it uses by preventing, detecting and responding to threats, both internal and external.
Selecting the correct installer for an IoT project is key. Installation partners should be vetted and tested on their approach to openness and flexibility. Too many installers have developed unwavering commitments to a single manufacturer or protocol which forms their comfort zone. This reduces the installer options from the get-go, so as soon as a high level solution is chosen, vetting and choosing an installation partner should follow so they become an integral part of the consultation process.
Collaboration is key in IoT projects, particularly when solutions comprise multiple offerings from different partners. It is critical that all solution partners are managed correctly by the system integrator (SI) and/or project manager (PM) to avoid scope creep.
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