If someone told you that you failed at something, you would be upset. However, in the world of project management, hearing that you failed usually just means that you need to avoid those mistakes in the future. Even with the most important of projects, failures are simply accepted when it comes to IT. David Walton, CEO of Bestoutcome, asks why project failures are still accepted. The answer he finds is that failure is not only accepted, it is expected:
This negative approach to IT projects is becoming quite a common phenomenon, which is particularly worrying in these times of austerity. If organisations are spending millions of pounds more on IT projects than they plan or need to, then something has to be done about it. As there are invariably many root causes of project failure, there cannot be one solution or silver bullet that prevents projects from meeting their goals or going wildly over budget. However, one thing that is clearly needed is a warning system that flashes danger and ‘intervention required’ at the appropriate moment. Sounds sensible enough, but in fact this is precisely where the problem of IT project failure can be exacerbated when people chose the wrong technology for the job.
Project portfolio management systems, according to Walton, are the typical warning systems. The issue is that PPM systems take a lot of effort to implement. Walton also notes that they have gone in the wrong direction in recent years. Furthermore, having a large PPM system does not equate to having a successful or useful PPM system. Often, the size of a PPM system can create a false sense of security which leads to more problems in the long run.
Walton suggests that this environment of accepted failures needs to stop. Revamping old PPM systems may be one way to prevent failure before it takes your business down. The more focused your PPM system is, the more likely it will succeed. Remember, every project will have its set-backs and road-blocks, but expect failure and you will be setting yourself and your organization up for grief.