The statistics covering IT projects that fail and the vast sums of money written off as a result, are quite terrifying.
Almost inevitably, there are a few relatively commonly-found reasons why organisations find themselves with a disaster on their hands.
1. Insufficient skill sets. The planning and execution of a successful IT project is a highly skilled business. All too often organisations make the mistake of allocating management responsibility for this to individuals who may be excellent generalist managers or with in-depth skills in other areas but who know little of what’s involved in successfully delivering a major IT enterprise.
2. A disconnect between objectives and budget. Some organisations set their expectations too high in terms of what they hope to achieve for the sums of money they are willing to invest. In theory this should be flagged at the outset but in practice, it is often ignored in the hope that somehow the project team will be able to deliver anyway. Disappointment is inevitably the result.
3. A lack of key player support. Specialists in IT systems implementation will tell you that executive management commitment and focus is essential. If it is only one individual trying to force the project in against a backdrop of political in-fighting with his/her colleagues or corporate indifference then the project will fail.
4. Choosing the wrong solution. An initial feasibility study should always be conducted but sadly often isn’t. This leads to a realisation, only after large sums have already been spent, that the solution being installed is unlikely to be fit for purpose. Short cutting the feasibility study or asking unqualified people to perform it is often the cause of trouble here.
5. A failure to control project spending. Budgetary control is one of the most demanding skills required of a good project manager but is often lacking. The result is typically a fundamental absence of financial control and the burning of allocated budget long before the project is concluded.
6. An increasing emphasis on unplanned ‘quick-wins’. Many organisations become impatient for benefit out of the project and start to divert the project team onto so-called quick-win tangents. There is inevitably a dilution of project focus and if not tightly controlled it can be a cause of project failure. Experienced IT Systems Implementers will, if they are left to their own professional inclinations, not allow these deviations to take place.
7. A disconnect between project implementation dates and business backgrounds. This is a classic problem and arises when a large project is planned to run over say six months but by the time it concludes, the business world has moved on and the solution it is providing is no longer appropriate for the changed environment.
8. A failure to design an integrated solution. This can have many different flavours but typically arises when one area of an organisation purchases a solution which in order to work, needs to be fully integrated with the systems in another part of the same organisation. Sometimes it is only after purchase of the solution that this need for integration is discovered. In some situations, it is subsequently realised that the integration isn’t possible due to technical incompatibilities and that can put any benefits out of the project at risk.