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:"
- Business reasons for project failure
- Business strategy superseded
- Business processes change (poor alignment)
- Poor requirements management
- Business benefits not clearly communicated or overstated
- Failure of parent company to deliver
- Governance issues within the contract
- Higher cost of capital
- Inability to provide investment capital
- Inappropriate disaster recovery
- Misuse of financial resources
- Overspends in excess of agreed budgets
- Poor project board composition
- Take-over of client firm
- 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.