Saturday, 15 March 2014

Why IT projects succeed (or fail)

Why do IT projects succeed or fail?

The Standish Group produces an annual report on the factors which affect whether IT projects succeed or fail. I've just been looking at the 2013 report, which contains some interesting reading. Here are a few quick points.

For example, "a large IT project has virtually no chance of coming in on time, on budget, and within scope".

In the case of small IT projects, "43% were challenged (late, over budget, or with less than the required features) while 18% failed (cancelled or never used)."

The good news is that nearly 40% succeeded!

They deem that the single most important area critical to project success rates is the competency of the executive sponsor, the person "who has the full weight and responsibility for the success or failure of the project squarely on his or her shoulders."

There are many other relevant points in this report, for example the importance of keeping projects small with clear borders. These factors are also relevant to other projects: see for example my article on Complexity Theory.

So what should we do about this?

How can we change the way we deal with IT projects so that we have a higher chance of success?

Firstly, expectations need to be handled appropriately. (See my article "What the Customer Actually Wanted".) The project scope needs to be clarified very early on, and a reasonable budget set.

Secondly, it is clear that the project sponsor needs to be given sufficient support to ensure that the project stays on track. That is where I come in. With my long experience of IT projects I know that the sponsor is typically very busy, without time for the necessary focus and often without anyone at their level to talk to about the project.

My strength is to be with them throughout the project, keeping them on target, adding weight to the project team, asking questions that others might prefer to avoid, ensuring that decisions are thought through fully and all issues are addressed.

Let me help you with your current or next project. Click on Contact above, and get in touch.

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