October 14, 2011
Enola Labs

Enola Labs creates custom strategy and products for mobile and web.

Let’s Talk

Subscribe to our blog:

​Michael Krigsman, who writes the IT Project Failures blog for ZDNet, says, “Depending on the statistics you read, 30 percent to 70 percent of these projects will be late, over budget or don’t deliver the planned scope.” At Enola Labs we are passionate about IT project success.

What is an IT Project Failure?

First, a clear definition of Project Failure: If a project takes longer than planned, if it costs more than planned, and if it doesn’t deliver business value (the business value that was required when the project was initiated), the project should be considered a failure. A caveat - project costs and project timeline can be adjusted by mutual agreement between the stakeholders during the project, but only if a project can deliver greater value and stakeholders can agree to a greater cost. Transparency and Adaptive Action are key to lowering the risk of project failure.

Reasons for IT Project Failure

Mr. Krigsman says, “IT failures often arise from dysfunctional communication, collaboration, and planning across information silos and boundaries. More simply, many projects fail because participants and stakeholders are not on the same page regarding shared goals and expectations.” We couldn’t agree more.

According to a study Strategies for Project Recovery done by project management consulting company PM Solutions the five top causes of troubled IT projects are:

  • Requirements: Unclear, lack of agreement, lack of priority, contradictory, ambiguous, imprecise.
  • Resources: Lack of resources, resource conflicts, turnover of key resources, poor planning.
  • Schedules: Too tight, unrealistic, overly optimistic.
  • Planning: Based on insufficient data, missing items, insufficient details, poor estimates.
  • Risks: Unidentified or assumed, not managed.
  • Getting stakeholders to accept the changes needed to bring the projects back on track-whether they are changes in scope, budget, resources, etc.
  • Poor communication and stakeholder engagement; lack of clarity and trust.
  • Conflicting priorities and politics.
  • Finding enough qualified resources needed to complete the projects.
  • Lack of a process or methodology to help bring the project back on track.

Improving the Odds

A disciplined process that includes the development of strong requirements, clear identification of stakeholders, a plan to communicate appropriate information with those stakeholders, clear identification and prioritization of risk, along with a plan to mitigate identified risks can significantly lower the overall risk of project failure.

Furthermore, consider how to make projects more adaptive. We believe that multiple, iterative decision-action cycles are better than a single long decision cycle followed by action. The reduction in the decision-action cycle times keep your projects responsive to changing conditions and requirements.