BCAT The IRB Survival Kit
The most stressful part of building or enhancing an IT system, arguably, is not programming, but successfully surviving the IT Investment Review Board (IRB) and other milestone requirements. Engineers and programmers are expected to write and promote a business case for a project while being thrown into a sea of laws, regulations and policies that threaten to delay the entire effort. Getting through IRBs for back office systems development projects can be particularly hard because less experienced staff assigned to these smaller projects may not get through the IRB as easily, adding rework and delaying projects.
Raise the chances of surviving your IRB within your timeline and with your sanity intact. Use these tips to build your own “survival kit” and stay focused on developing systems instead of building strategies.
Train, Train, Train. Each member of your team needs to know what to expect at the IRB before you begin writing your business case. Understanding why the IRB exists and its goals makes the process more positive and provides each writer with a common vision. Instruction and coaching on business case structure, costing and CPIC provides a common foundation and investment process language so that everyone sounds like an expert. Lastly, reviewing the laws, regulation and policies will dramatically reduce your risk of non-compliance—the most common reason that investments fail the IRB.
Create a Repository of Success. Providing a repository of successful business cases helps the team understand the end goal and a consistent approach brings structure to your business case and presentation. Include a list of successful stakeholders in your repository–when you are backed up by all of your stakeholders, your business case will be iron clad.
Practice ‘Till You Drop. Never go into an IRB without practicing your presentation, a script and multiple team practices. Consider using a video camera to record your presentation, allowing you to truly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Rehearsals may reveal that your initial presentation is not effective, so don’t get frustrated if it must be rewritten from scratch. Your rewrite will get your message across clearly and with impact.
Don’t Forget the Cheat Sheet. Expect the IRB to ask all the tough questions. Be ready with a comprehensive list of answers and decide beforehand who will speak about which topic. Review and quiz each other about these details before the IRB so that the notes are needed only for the most complex issues. Be careful to organize answers in a logical manner—nothing increases stress like dead silence while shuffling through papers at an IRB.
Consult with the Experts. XLA’s BCAT team has taken multiple Federal programs and IT systems through successful IRBs in less than three months. Their proven Investment Review Framework, which includes more than 50 templates, instruction and one-on-one coaching, imparts a big picture view to your team, helping you survive and fly through any IRB review. Learn more about BCAT at www.xla.com/BCAT.