5 Reasons Why IT Projects Fail

JP Lessard August 27, 2015

Depending on their size, IT projects can be an enormous undertaking both in terms of time and resources. According to one survey, 50% of businesses had an IT project fail during 2013. That’s a staggeringly large proportion and speaks to the enormous burden remaining on IT departments to pick up the pieces of these failed projects and work around the inefficiencies that prompted the IT project in the first place. But why do so many IT projects fail? Let’s take a look at a few reasons why:

1. The scope of the project is wrong

When an IT company is first brought in to begin consulting on a project, it’s sometimes difficult to get a full sense of the scope of work necessary to meet their clients objectives. Perhaps the client isn’t fully aware of the nature of their issue and expects a project to be much smaller scope than is actually required. It’s important, then, from the outset to ensure IT project managers and the decision-makers at the client are fully aligned in their understanding and expectation of both the nature of the issues and the technological solutions the IT company will implement.

2. The project experiences “scope creep”

The initial scope of a project may be entirely suitable for what the client needs and what the IT company intends to deliver, only for the project to be derailed by “scope creep”. Scope creep is the uncontrolled addition of features or tasks to an IT project without the consideration of the additional time and resources it will take to implement those additions. Without clear alignment and communication between an IT project manager and the client, scope creep can lead to a painful process where, ultimately, neither party ends up satisfied.

Changing the scope of a project after it has already begun can also have considerable logistical implications on the project. With IT projects, the starting of certain tasks is often times reliant on the completion of other tasks first. By changing and adding to this flow of tasks established at the outset of the project, scope creep has the potential to cause significant problems.

3. Lack of communication

Communication is a key part of any project and IT projects are no exception. The more people involved in a large-scale project, the larger the complexity and amount of work required to keep everything on track. Good IT project management involves consistent communication not only with the client to convey issues and progress, but also with members of the IT project’s team.

4. Having inappropriate skillsets assigned for the project

Every IT project manager should have the right person with the right skills assigned to every task within a project. This involves a fundamental understanding of what each member of their team is capable of, their education or certifications, and their overall skillset. By not having the right people assigned to the right tasks can mean elements of a certain project simply aren’t done properly or the IT team has to take significant time to correct those errors and get the project back on track. In either case, not having the appropriate skillsets aligned to the jobs at hand is a significant contributor to why IT projects fail.

5. Poor planning and preparation

Many factors contribute to the poor planning and preparation of IT projects. Perhaps the IT team is time-pressured and are feeling rushed to complete their work. Without proper planning and preparation from the overseeing elements of the IT project team, team members are left to their own devices without a top-down organization overview of what the project is about. Additionally, as mentioned above, IT projects typically consist of many activities that cannot be started until previous tasks have been completed. Without a clearly defined workflow, it’s easy for IT projects to fail.

Correct planning also involves a comprehensive risk assessment before the project starts. Decision-makers and IT project team leadership should work together to come to a clear understanding and appreciation of the risks involved with the project. Ultimately, any risk calculation involves asking the question: are the risks inherent to implementing new technology worth the potential positive impact they instill? Thinking about the answer to this question may lead to revisions in the IT project, but should position the project for greater success.

IT projects can be a huge undertaking with potentially far-reaching improvements in productivity and efficiency for a business. By avoiding these points of failure, though, businesses and IT companies can ensure their projects remain on track and their implementation bring the desired improvements to the business.

Have you had experience with an IT project that wasn’t a success? If so, what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below.

If you would like to learn more about what makes an IT project successful or have any other questions about IT as part of a comprehensive IT support strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us today to speak with an IT expert.





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