Why Big IT Projects Fall Short of Expectations

 
 
By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 06-23-2015 Email
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Why Big IT Projects Fall Short of Expectations
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    Why Big IT Projects Fall Short of Expectations

    By Dennis McCafferty
  • Previous
    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Inexperienced Teams
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    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Inexperienced Teams

    Unseasoned teams often commit to aggressive milestones without a bottom-up plan to support them.
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    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Lack of Engagement From Key Stakeholders
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    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Lack of Engagement From Key Stakeholders

    Without sufficient buy-in from the business side-often due to insufficient clarity about essential project details-teams will struggle to acquire the resources they need.
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    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Unclear or Complex Requirements
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    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Unclear or Complex Requirements

    A classic mistake: Pursuing development before all requirements are clearly defined, resulting in "requirement churn" and expensive redefinitions late in the process.
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    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Insufficient Attention Paid to Major Risks
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    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Insufficient Attention Paid to Major Risks

    Poor data quality, for example, can undermine a project. So can extending a project to multiple markets/nations without taking into account differences in processes, languages and regulatory environments.
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    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Inadequate Testing
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    Why Large IT Projects Fail: Inadequate Testing

    When cycles such as development run past schedule, testing often gets shortchanged. This sets the stage for problems when the project goes live, as fixing problems becomes much more costly and difficult.
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    Best Practices: Break a Project Into Chunks
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    Best Practices: Break a Project Into Chunks

    Reducing efforts into smaller, more piecemeal initiatives makes them more manageable. Try to minimize interdependencies among these 'mini' projects in the planning stage.
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    Best Practices: Get the Right Leadership in Place Early
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    Best Practices: Get the Right Leadership in Place Early

    You should recruit a project director who has experience with the work at hand, and can gain the trust of senior execs organizationwide.
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    Best Practices: Invest Time Upfront on Definitions
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    Best Practices: Invest Time Upfront on Definitions

    These definitions must clarify scope, business requirements, costs and benefits.
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    Best Practices: Select Vendors That Have ‘Done This Before’
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    Best Practices: Select Vendors That Have ‘Done This Before’

    Vendors with a track record on the project in question will be well familiar with the associated risks, and will be better positioned to deliver on targeted outcomes.
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    Best Practices: Promote a Culture of Openness
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    Best Practices: Promote a Culture of Openness

    Through transparency, you engage stakeholders who now understand their roles and responsibilities, and are willing to commit to them.
 

It can get pretty rough out there for CIOs who oversee large-scale IT projects: For projects requiring more than $10 million in investment, the chances of delivering on time and on budget, while meeting all needed objectives, is just one in 10, according to research findings summarized in a recent report from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). And the cost of failure can amount to 100% or even 170% of the original investment cost. The report, titled "Large-Scale IT Projects: From Nightmare to Value Creation," reflects upon the good, bad and the ugly behind the planning and execution of major tech initiatives. As for the bad and the ugly, it summarizes the following reasons why such projects fail, which include overly complex requirements, inexperienced teams and a lack of buy-in among influential stakeholders. As for the good, it provides best practices for avoiding these mistakes and steering a big IT undertaking toward impactful success. Doing so frequently distinguishes successful CIOs from also-rans. "Given today's rapidly evolving business environment," according to the report, "the ability to deliver large-scale IT projects successfully stands to become an increasingly critical competitive differentiator for companies (as well as an increasingly used yardstick for gauging the performance of leaders, including CIOs)."

 
 
 
 
 
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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