According to new research, success in 68 percent of technology projects is "improbable". Poor requirements analysis causes many of these failures, meaning projects are doomed right from the start.
These are staggering numbers, hitting the high end of the Standish Chaos Report and presenting a far worse picture than Sauer, Gemino, and Reich.
Key findings from the report, The Impact of Business Requirements on the Success of Technology Projects from IAG Consulting, include (emphasis added):
This chart illustrates the requirements skills gap most companies face:
The impact of this skills gap is substantial, directly increasing project time, cost, and risk of failure. The "skills gap premium" is reflected in this graph:
My take. This research seems credible and insightful, intuitively corresponding to observations one sees in the field. I should mention the study talks about "companies", rather than projects, and it's unclear whether that distinction has numerical significance. Either way, the number is both high and disturbing.
It's important to quantify issues such as requirements failure, because many organizations over-estimate their capabilities in this area. As the study makes clear, few organizations perform these activities well. Let me be clearer: your organization probably does a lousy job setting up projects, which is why they fail.>
The solution lies in recognizing that requirements definition is critical. Learn to make assumptions explicit; for example, if the business requests a specific requirement, do the following:
I asked Helge Scheil, CA's senior vice president and general manager of the company's governance group, for comment:
Solid requirements planning establishes a clear connection between the business case, project goals, and the project outcome.
Yes, it may seem obvious, but still many projects fail. Follow this perhaps-not-so-obvious advice and more of your projects will succeed than fail.
Michael Krigsman is CEO of Asuret, a software and consulting company dedicated to reducing software implementation failures. He is also CEO of Cambridge Publications, which specializes in developing tools and processes for software implementations and related business practice automation propjects. This article was first published as a blog post on ZDNet.com.