An article in the March issue of Harvard Business Review, written by former CIO Susan Cramm, discusses harsh realities associated with out-of-control IT costs.
Although cost containment is integral to reducing failed IT projects, the article suggests a certain Draconian inflexibility that just doesn't make sense.
The article includes a sidebar called "The Seven Truths", reflecting Cramm's position that, "companies overspend on IT because they are unwilling to say no to frontline managers."
Here are the seven truths (reformatted from original):
The project failures analysis
Many organizations lack sufficient discipline and control around IT spending and execution. However, relying on Draconian guiding principles that ignore realities on the ground is no solution.
For example, in point one Cramm recommends blindly killing projects when funds run out. While that sounds nice, some successful projects run over budget for legitimate reasons, often because unexpected opportunities to add value show up as work proceeds. Former CIO and project portfolio management analyst, Lewis Cardin, believes some project course corrections are valuable and he warns us against falling prey to "first number syndrome."
On point four, discussing failure rates, Cramm suggests establishing a rule-based kill switch. I agree with this to an extent, but again, her perspective is overly mechanical. For example, should an organization automatically terminate a critical strategic initiative because the IT execution component is flawed?
Cramm's HBR article is on the right track, but I'd prefer to see her advice tempered with greater nuance and flexibility. These complex issues have no simple answers, but rigidity is definitely not the right path forward.
Michael Krigsman is CEO of Asuret, a software and consulting company dedicated to reducing software implementation failures. He also serves as CEO of Cambridge Publications, which specializes in developing tools and processes for software implementations and related business practice automation projects. Michael contributes to the IT Project Failures blog at ZDNet Asia's sister site, ZDNet.