A study by Dr. John McManus and Trevor Wood-Harper covers 214 different information systems projects at the same time in an effort to better understand this phenomenon. The study measures the types and values of the projects, and it notes the stage at which projects are canceled, the key reasons why they get canceled, and the management and technical reasons they get canceled. One conclusion reached is that leadership, stakeholder, and risk management issues are not considered early enough or formally enough due to political factors. But politics are not the only problem:
One of the major weaknesses uncovered during the analysis was the total reliance placed on project and development methodologies. One explanation for the reliance on methodology is the absence of leadership within the delivery process. Processes alone are far from enough to cover the complexity and human aspects of many large projects subject to multiple stakeholders, resource and ethical constraints.
The authors themselves confess that although the information they have compiled is illuminating, it does not fundamentally solve the problem of project failure. They however recommend that a new methodology devised with leadership, stakeholders, and risk management in mind from the beginning could stand to improve a project’s odds of survival.