Wednesday, April 15, 2009

IT Project Issues and Causes

It is still incredible that people expect IT projects to proceed successfully when they have not done sufficient planning at the outset?

It’s a bit of a Catch-22 – you cannot plan if things that have not yet been fully decided and agreed upon and at the same time you cannot manage something that has not been planned.

When a project starts to go off the rails, chances are that the root cause of the problem can be easily traced back to poor project decision making processes before the project commenced. So in order to understand the many possible reasons and causes for IT projects failing (to varying degrees), we need to review events at the *inception* of IT projects rather than analyzing problematic outcomes *after* the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan!

Specifically it is an organization’s pre-investment decision making and pre-implementation planning processes that needs attention – not scapegoating and other such unproductive exercises. If these strategic processes are either not established or lack structure and rigor, decisions will be insubstantial with a lack of accountability for the outcomes. The flow-on effect of weak decisions is guaranteed to adversely impact the project once it gets underway.

My in-depth analysis of failed IT projects clearly demonstrates that problematic project outcomes are almost always directly attributable to insufficient or poor strategic project decision making at the outset.

The following issues and associated causes may well ring a bell!

The above sample of issues and causes is by no means exhaustive but is indicative of common causes of IT project failures.

A final word on strategic decision making is that these decisions *cannot* be made in isolation by a single person who “deems” themself to be the chief decision maker. For decisions to be accurate and also supported by an organization and peers they require collaboration and accountability.

Kind regards
Sarah Jane Runge

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