Since I wrote this article, IT Project Failure Rates: Facts and Reasons, several years ago, it continues to be one of the most read articles on my website. Thank you.
Clearly, it continues to resonate, and not for good reasons.
The picture of the frustrated fellow is indeed even more startling now than when originally posted – he doesn’t like the facts and they’re not moving in his favor. Failure rates on IT projects remain unacceptably high, and the primary reasons remain people and people-systems.
Reinforcing these figures is my experience coaching CIOs and technologists across organizations at all levels, who find equally shocking outcomes. Why is this and why does it continue?
First, the right questions about a technology project are not asked when they should be. Before even beginning a project, be certain you can define success, else you’ll meander and never reach an agreement with your partners.
Second, the process doesn’t tease out the right questions and concerns. People tend to check boxes, go through the routine, without considering the upcoming difficulties. Technology is tough.
Third, users back away due to other priorities.
Fourth, inadequate project management. In all the time I’ve been involved in technology projects, this has been among the weak links. It’s befuddling why, as without it, you have chaos. Imagine building a massive natural gas-fired electricity generating plant without a project management system.
Fifth, user requirements remain unclear. While few people like writing them or ever outlining them in broad strokes, you need precision about expectations and deliverables, whether waterfall or agile.
Sixth, and a point I missed earlier, is that technologists need to develop a higher level of emotional intelligence, which in turn supports relationship building.
The five steps I outlined before to improving the ‘people-based’ factors affecting IT delivery still hold, and I’ve added a sixth:
Please feel free to reach out to me here.