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High Failure Rate, Compared to What?

The dog ate your IT project, or so you say. Dave Gordon gives what seems like a long list of excuses for the excessive rate of IT project failure. But perhaps that failure rate is a bit overstated.

All Big Projects Go Bust

For instance, even high profile construction projects, with years devoted to planning and development, shoot over budget and end in debacle (Boston’s “Big Dig” project). Gordon argues that IT projects should be treated differently:

IT projects…tend to be subject to snap decisions by sponsors, with little executive oversight. There is typically limited time allowed for planning, due to short schedules driven by “competitive pressure” and ever-shorter product life cycles. Scope is frequently vague. Stakeholders are usually too busy with “business as usual” to participate in planning, defining requirements, or testing. Project team members are rarely dedicated to the project, and their work priorities are constantly shifting. Software tools are buggy, poorly documented, and poorly supported by the vendors (or “supported” by a user community).

The Best Projects are…

Gordon believes that project management should be understood less in terms of budgets and schedules, and more in terms of the delivery of value.  Taken from the examples listed in his article, a successful project outcome can be grouped into four basic categories: execution, quality, standards, and benefits.

Execution: A deliverable arrives in a timely fashion without disrupting another process. It is completely usable and comprehensible for the customer with all non-functional requirements fulfilled as well.

Quality: The product is cost-effective throughout its entire lifecycle, does not become an impediment at end-of-life, and reflects expectations warranted by its importance to the end user.

Standards: Sufficient change management efforts are undertaken, a palatable risk management profile is maintained, a positive relation with venders is retained, and all contracts are kept in order.

Benefits: There is wise spending on risk management, retention of valued employees, an agreeable ROI, and many learned lessons that improve activities elsewhere in the organization immediately and in the future.

Read the full post here: http://blog.practicingitpm.com/2014/07/09/high-failure-rate-compared/

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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