Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

5 Reasons to Kill IT Projects

~ By Michael Krigsman

Furious businessman tearing up a document

A survey of IT experts revealed 43 percent of their organisations had recently killed an IT project. The study, conducted by ISACA, an independent IT governance group, highlighted the top 5 reasons these organisations named for terminating projects prior to completion.

Here's the list, with my commentary on each issue:

1. Business Needs Changed: 30%

There are many conditions and situations where a business legitimately changes its requirements after starting a project. If the project no longer provides meaningful value, then it's best to stop throwing good money after bad.

On the other hand, some organisations deliberately obscure a flawed project requirements process by claiming business needs evolved. Obviously, that's unhealthy and a true sign of failure.

2. Did Not Deliver as Promised: 23%

This is a typical expectation setting problem: promise anything to get funding and worry about the consequences later. Shortsighted managers don't realise that funding is less important than delivering substantive value. Failure is inevitable when managers don't clearly identify and deliver business value.

In some cases, the project really did provide value, which the organisation did not recognise due to communication problems. I recently blogged about one CIO seeking a publicist, presumably to address this issue:

Many organisations take a CIO for granted when his IT department consistently delivers the goods without fanfare and attention; sadly, this human failing is all too common. In that case, PR might be a great idea, especially if the CIO isn't a great communicator. Of course, the CIO should improve his communication skills, but that's another story.

3. Project Was No Longer a Priority: 14%

If the organisation shifted direction without good reason, thus making the project superfluous, then flawed strategic planning was the culprit. However, if business requirements changed for a good reason, as suggested in point one, there's not necessarily a problem.

In general, and this is an obvious point, cancelling projects without a darn good reason is a definite sign of failure.

4. Project Exceeded the Budget: 13%

On the surface, over-budget projects are the basic metric for failure. I'm actually surprised this number isn't higher, because unanticipated cost is always such a clear red flag.

At the same time, some projects run over-budget due to intelligent scope increases that provide additional value. For example, while automating two departments, the project team realises it can add a third department for only marginal increases in cost. In such cases, going forward is probably the right decision despite the higher spend.

Although tempting to use budget performance as simple metric of success or failure, that approach can be overly simplistic and ignore important nuances related to business value. Nonetheless, anytime a project goes over-budget the team must offer a detailed explanation.

5. Project Did Not Support the Business Strategy: 7%

This classic indicator of failure often suggests a project rooted in poor requirements analysis. However, as with previous points, it's also possible changing business needs made the original project goals obsolete.

The survey is most interesting to highlight significant issues related to project failure. However, some of the questions are too ambiguous to provide straightforward conclusions. In general, understanding whether a project is successful requires examining the business environment and context.


Michael Krigsman is CEO of Michael Krigsman, a software and consulting company dedicated to reducing software implementation failures. Asuret's suite of software tools improve the success rate of enterprise software deployments by quantifying and measuring the grey, non-technical risks and complexity that cause most implementation failures. Michael led the research effort underlying Asuret's model of risk factors that typically contribute to project failures. Michael consults to software companies and IT departments on topics related to improving software implementations. Michael blogs about his project management experiences at IT Project Failures


Advertisement


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
What is the sum of 1 + 4 + 4?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Top Three Causes of Project Failure

Businessman in a black suit holding up a white sign reading failed

The top three causes of project failure, which if addressed will greatly increase the chances of project success.

Project Planning a Step by Step Guide

Businessman finding the solution to a maze

The key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is the first thing you should do when undertaking any kind of project.

Top 10 Benefits to Earning a Certification

University students in a classroom watching a presentation

Is it worth putting in all of the work? Consider these benefits of earning a certification, and if you see the benefits for your situation, go for it!

Agile Through the Waterfall

Agile and waterfall tag cloud

Many organisations have adopted Agile practices into their development methodologies and they have proved to be successful for the organisation as a whole.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Ashwini Pendharkar commented on…
10 Golden Rules of Project Risk Management
- Tue 20 June 1:32pm

Tery commented on…
A Brief History of SMART Goals
- Mon 19 June 10:10pm

Tammy Marin commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Thu 15 June 10:37pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Please Advise: Does PRINCE2 Practitioner Exam Scenerio Changes… https://t.co/OK90gkJzMN #projectsmart #pmot about 10 days ago

RT @rkelly976: “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.”… about 12 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Do I need project management software? https://t.co/u4Tu1fnzuY #projectsmart #pmot about 12 days ago