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Why Projects Fail? Hint – It’s Not Technical Skills

Asking why projects fail is an excellent opportunity to play the blame game. According to a recent study by Gartner, people place the majority of the blame for project failure on organizational skills or organizational skills and partially technical skills. Even when technical skills were mentioned, they were rarely considered to be the real reason for project failure. Mike Rollings believes that organizational skills need to be improved if the end goal is increased project success: A large area of concern for many Gartner clients is “How do I get a large organization to do new things, to collaborate effectively, and to improve overall delivery effectiveness?” This area is a huge focus for our Professional Effectiveness research – it not only applies to architects, but also to our entire constituency of IT professionals. They all have challenges with the human-side of project success. I have had many discussions with clients relating to “How do I deal with humans?” piece – it is a different type of conversation, not so much about the technology as it is about how do you get buy-in, influence stakeholders and achieve lasting behavior change. Our recent Gartner Research Circle survey asked clients about project failures. No respondent chose “technical skills” as the cause of IT project failure. What this illustrates is that IT practitioners know that non-technical skills are always a factor in project success. Yet many organizations ignore the development of non-technical skills. If employees in an organization want to learn better organizational skills, many books and classes are available on the matter. There are certain things as an individual you need to learn about yourself before making any changes. According to Rollings, you need to decipher what realities your IT department is now facing and what you can do to improve your own engagement. There will always be a variety of answers available for why projects fail. However, it seems that blaming issues on IT is becoming less and less of an option. Dealing with humans over automated systems will certainly have its challenges, but learning to fix issues before the project fails may be as simple as revamping organizational skills.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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