15 non-technical reasons IT projects fail

A study of IT "abandonment" reported by the British Computer Society (BCS) reinforces the notion that IT projects fail primarily for non-technical causes. Such quantitative research is important in helping managers understand the business, organizational, political, and cultural dimensions of IT failure.

15 key non-technical reasons IT projects fail

A study of IT "abandonment" reported by the British Computer Society (BCS) reinforces the notion that IT projects fail primarily for non-technical causes. Such quantitative research is important in helping managers understand the business, organizational, political, and cultural dimensions behind failed projects.

Here's the BCS list of "key reasons why projects get canceled:"

  1. Business reasons for project failure
  2. Business strategy superseded
  3. Business processes change (poor alignment)
  4. Poor requirements management
  5. Business benefits not clearly communicated or overstated
  6. Failure of parent company to deliver
  7. Governance issues within the contract
  8. Higher cost of capital
  9. Inability to provide investment capital
  10. Inappropriate disaster recovery
  11. Misuse of financial resources
  12. Overspends in excess of agreed budgets
  13. Poor project board composition
  14. Take-over of client firm
  15. Too big a project portfolio

This list is all about management, focus, and planning. IT projects also collapse when stakeholders and participants don't properly manage time, scope, and costs (considered the triple constraints of project management).

Reinforcing this point, the BCS article adds:

Our evidence suggests that the culture within many organisation's is often such that leadership, stakeholder and risk management issues are not factored into projects early on and in many instances cannot formally be written down for political reasons....

Leadership and cultural issues are hard to measure and quantify, so many organizations simply ignore these most common sources of IT failure. Given this, it's not surprising the sinking ship of high IT failure rates continues to plague business.

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