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Navigating the Last Mile Featured

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Pacific Coast - Nicaragua Pacific Coast - Nicaragua photo by Steve Tsiopanos

No matter how hard we work to resolve conflicts, fight scope-creep and tackle unforeseen obstacles, the "last-mile" of any project can often be the hardest to complete.

Rush, Then Stop

While this does not apply to all projects, of course, there are many technology implementations that become mired in their own complexity when results are not balanced against business need. Under such circumstances, a project manager may wish that their contractors had a broader view of the overall goal. This scenario often plays out across all industries: Rapid development barreling towards an end date, followed by a sudden stand still. Although there is more than enough blame to go around, some key questions will arise:

Why are we building it?

How are we going to use it?

These may be sound like pedestrian questions, but they underscore how easy it is to lose sight of the goal while you are bogged down solving incremental problems.

The Last Mile

Borrowing a term from the telecommunications industry, one needs to know how to navigate "The Last Mile".

"The last mile or last kilometer is a phrase used by the telecommunications, cable television and internet industries to refer to the final leg of the telecommunications networks delivering communications connectivity to retail customers, the part that actually reaches the customer."


For our purposes, "The Last Mile" could be:

  • Building easy to administer private hosting infrastructure
  • Developing project management tools your employees actually want to use
  • Deploying software your IT team actually wants to support
  • Launching application server virtualization that meets deadlines and stays within budget

However complex the systems being built are, success is almost always measured in simple terms. That's something to keep in mind when examining project proposals, building budgets are vetting contractors. Unless money is not a limiting factor, you need to examine the most efficient way to achieve the critical results that matters to your business or your clients.

Know the Business

It takes someone who not only knows your business, but has a comprehensive understanding of the technology involved while still being removed from your business politics. This is one of the reasons consultants can provide targeted and efficient solutions, fast. Choosing the right consultant means finding someone who objectively knows not just how but why the job needs to get done.

Mind the Gap

The communications gap between management and IT / Developers often allows projects to spin out of control because those who drive initiatives are out of sync with those who implement them. One hopes that project managers are trained well enough to patch this rift, but that is not always the case. Worse yet, managers of smaller companies that cannot afford dedicated project resources, may find themselves at odds with onsite IT or external contractors. In such cases, an honest and experienced consultant can do wonders with adhering to timelines, reducing costs and increasing transparency.

Read 7046 times Last modified on Sunday, 19 April 2015 13:41
Steve Tsiopanos

Family-smitten IT entrepreneur who enjoys running, biking, gadgets, piano & guitar, drawing and coding. Founded Annatech in 2006 and serves as Sr. Manager of Enterprise Solutions at 14 West.

Atlassian Certified Jira AdministratorAtlassian Certified System AdministratorAtlassian Skills Badge: Scaling Jira
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