Why IT projects fail

The all about agile blog has compiled a list of why IT projects fail:Project Initiation & Planning Issues Unclear or unconvincing business...
Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor

The all about agile blog has compiled a list of why IT projects fail:

Project Initiation & Planning Issues

  • Unclear or unconvincing business case
  • Insufficient or non-existent approval process
  • Poor definition of project scope and objectives
  • Insufficient time or money given to project
  • Lack of business ownership and accountability
  • Insufficient and/or over-optimistic planning
  • Poor estimating
  • Long or unrealistic timescales; forcing project end dates despite best estimates
  • Lack of thoroughness and diligence in the project startup phases

Technical & Requirements Issues

  • Lack of user involvement (resulting in expectation issues)
  • Product owner unclear or consistently not available
  • Scope creep; lack of adequate change control
  • Poor or no requirements definition; incomplete or changing requirements
  • Wrong or inappropriate technology choices
  • Unfamiliar or changing technologies; lack of required technical skills
  • Integration problems during implementation
  • Poor or insufficient testing before go-live
  • Lack of QA for key deliverables
  • Long and unpredictable bug fixing phase at end of project

Stakeholder Management & Team Issues

  • Insufficient attention to stakeholders and their needs; failure to manage expectations
  • Lack of senior management/executive support; project sponsors not 100% committed to the objectives; lack understanding of the project and not actively involved
  • Inadequate visibility of project status
  • Denial adopted in preference to hard truths
  • People not dedicated to project; trying to balance too many different priorities
  • Project team members lack experience and do not have the required skills
  • Team lacks authority or decision making ability
  • Poor collaboration, communication and teamwork

Project Management Issues

  • No project management best practices
  • Weak ongoing management; inadequately trained or inexperienced project managers
  • Inadequate tracking and reporting; not reviewing progress regularly or diligently enough
  • Ineffective time and cost management
  • Lack of leadership and/or communication skills

Note that these points are all about management, rather than technology.

Projects fail when expectations are not aligned with results; in a sense, that's the definition of failure. Given the complexity of IT projects, with many moving parts distributed among a diverse group of stakeholders, it's not surprising that expectation mismatches occur all the time.

Differences in expectations, goals, and priorities are substantial contributers to non-technical complexity, which is the underlying cause of most IT failures.

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