Overthinking a problem can become a problem in itself. Project failure stems from many sources, and Myriam Robin writes in an article that corporate strategy alone is not enough to curtail it. With input from Stephen Coates, technology risk partner at BDO, she arrives at four reasons why so many IT projects fail:
- Reinventing the wheel
- Letting the limits define the goal
- Project governance
- Finishing too early
There is such an emphasis on innovation today that organizations will go out of their way to try to create new ways of doing things when the old way was already the bee’s knees. Instead, examine examples within and outside the organization that were great successes and decide what can be done to model your practices after those examples. Another thing to be wary of is how you define your goal, especially the order of events that define it. Since the requirements of a project can demand considerably more or less money than has been budgeted, think about what the project itself requires for success instead of immediately scaling the project up or down to fit the budget. The same principle applies to deadlines.
With regard to project governance, when a project changes hands, the next team might not understand the project’s significance as well as the first. This results in the project taking a different shape than was intended or will be of use to the organization. Sometimes, even the same single team will accidentally take a project in an unintended direction. The article reflects on the implications:
In Coates’ view, the disconnect arises from many experienced technical experts not being as experienced around making a business case for a project and failing to understand its broader business significance. As a result of this, they end up being overseen by business managers who may not understand the technology side of the project well. When the two sides do not communicate well, mistakes get made and things get left behind.
The last reason why projects fail is that teams tend to finish on the day of implementation, even though it will be uncertain if the final product is even any good until it has been in use for a month or two. Success is all about following through on practical goals. Keep a level head and you will be fine.