The beautiful game of football (not ‘soccer’) has always been known as the World Game due to its popularity and the number of people across the globe who play it. Being an IT Consultant and having seen the use and effect of IT solutions across varying industries, there is no doubt that IT solutions are as global today as the World Game. As the two keep me busy six days a week, it got me thinking – how similar or different are the principles involved?
The major similarity, which often gets overlooked in IT projects and is more prominent in football, is teamwork. The success of a project is more reliant on the people involved than on the technical solution. Internal staff and IT consultants not working as a team would be similar to a group of players passing the ball around but not including the remaining players on the team. The chances of winning are slim.
Project planning and milestones are important part of IT projects. Before starting a project, everyone involved needs to have a clear vision and understanding of what is expected of them and how the project is to be implemented. This fits well with pre-match preparation where formation, strategies and roles are clearly defined. You definitely do not want your goalkeeper playing as a striker. Milestones help in evaluating the status of a project by comparing actuals against expectations. Similar to the half-time team talk, it allows stake holders to change strategies and evaluate results.
Both IT projects and football require continuous effort. From the starting whistle to the final one, you cannot afford to switch off in a football match. IT projects might require varying effort depending on the stage of the project, but this still means continuous attention and concentration.
Unlike a football match, undertaking an IT project does not involve competing against another group of people. However, it does involve having to manage your time between your normal internal daily tasks and the IT project. In addition, IT projects might bring along the need to change old habits and processes which hopefully are made easier by the new IT solution. Lastly, although IT projects and football matches usually have a mad rush towards the end, unfortunately IT projects do not have a ‘last minute injury time winner’. These are goals that win matches with seconds remaining and make you jump off your seat in joy, if it’s your team that has scored. IT projects require constant effort – there are no last minute winners.