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Fixing failure: Shatter the technical glass ceiling

Projects fail because IT and business people don't communicate. This gap between business requirements and IT execution remains alive and well, according to new research.
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Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor on

Projects fail because IT and business people don't communicate. This gap between business requirements and IT execution remains alive and well, according to new research.

ComputerWorld UK summarizes the issue:

The survey of CIOs, senior IT managers and department heads across 500 European business found that just 48% of UK CIOs sit on the board.

Instead CIOs are usually brought into the strategic process once decisions about the business have already been made, found the study.

In most cases, 35%, strategies are worked out by the board, and then IT is brought in to deliver. Only 13% of cases business strategies are signed off if IT has committed.

THE PROJECT FAILURES ANALYSIS

Given statistics like this, it's not surprising that 30% - 70% of IT projects fail.

During a recent interview with distributed computing analyst, Judith Hurwitz, she explained how poor leadership on the business side ultimately causes many failures. According to Judith, projects collapse due to poor alignment between requirements stated by business management and IT's understanding of those requirements.

The study affirms this view:

Sixty six percent of respondents said business opportunities had been lost due to lack of communication between the business unit and IT.

Failures will persist until IT learns to think strategically and communicate more effectively in the language of business. Likewise, it's time for business leadership to actively engage IT to shatter the technical glass ceiling.

Note to CEOs: If your CIO doesn't contribute as a true partner to the business, then find a new CIO. Before taking such drastic steps, however, make sure the problem isn't your fault. (Hint: you'd be well-advised to look in the mirror before firing the CIO.)

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