Badly-managed IT projects threaten business success

A new study reveals poor project management as one of the main contributors to high failure rates.

SINGAPORE--Many Asia-Pacific IT professionals believe that unsuccessful IT initiatives undertaken by their companies have resulted in business failure. Yet many companies still fail to manage IT business risk in a coordinated fashion, says a new report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

According to the survey, 40 percent of the respondents in the region think that only half of the IT initiatives undertaken by their organizations in the past two years have had positive business outcomes, while 20 percent said that IT business risk is not managed in a coordinated way in their company.

About 1,000 IT executives around the world responded to the EIU study, which was commissioned by business software provider Mercury Interactive in March 2006.

About 30 percent, or more than 300 respondents, hailed from the Asia-Pacific region. Of these, 33 percent attributed flawed program and project management as the main cause of IT failure, while another 30 percent blamed changing business requirements definition. Sixteen percent of the respondents singled out changes in business environment as the culprit contributing to IT failure, while the rest felt that poor change management was the cause.

Noting the high number of respondents who ranked flawed program and project management as the main contributor to IT failure, Graham Sowden, president of Mercury Asia-Pacific, said in an interview with ZDNet Asia that: "Getting control over the overall portfolio of projects and having real-time visibility on where projects and potential risks are at, is very important."

The research also showed that only 38 percent of CIOs are primarily accountable for managing IT business risk in the Asia-Pacific region, while about 45 percent said that the day-to-day management of IT business risk is left to less senior IT managers.

This puts Asia-Pacific businesses at risk, said Sowden.

To minimize such risks, Sowden said, businesses should look at better understanding the blind spots in IT projects and establishing the right mix of process and automation to gain better control and drive predictable business outcomes.

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