Monday, September 15, 2014

Large IT projects fail more often

Very often, the blame has been put onto the IT industry on the failure rate of IT projects within the industry. However, little focus has been put on the complexity of the IT projects that are usually undertaken that caused this failure.

In an industry survey on large government IT projects that I read recently, only 6.4 percent of the IT projects were successful. Most are late, over budget or deficient, or outright failures. Therefore, the question on everyone's mind is why is there such a high failure rate?

The reason is very simple. Technology is always used to change or improve processes. Anything that involves change management has a very high rate of failure because people do not understand that what happens in the manual world cannot be directly translated into the virtual world.

For example, in the manual world, you may be very customer centric and allow a great deal of flexibility in conducting your business. However, you feel that you need to tighten the governance and therefore you wish to build a system to cater for that. What many customers do is to directly convert all the work done in the manual world to the virtual world. That is a recipe for disaster!

If the process is complicated to the human mind, just imagine how the computer will look at it. Yes, the computer can do this complicated process but the question is why must it be done in this manner? If you wish to track the governance or protocols, you'll often realised that certain "flexibility" given are actually directly against what you intend to do.

The good vendors will warn you and attempt to assist you in doing some business process re-engineering to streamline your process. However if your vendor is not well versed in your domain or they have a communication issue internally due to the size of the project, then you'll be in big trouble.

To reduce the risk of projects failing is actually quite simple. Make your projects smaller and leaner, and know exactly what you wish to achieve for each project/phase.

If your sales personnel have trouble closing multi-million/billion dollar contracts every year, what makes you think you can do the same for IT projects in 6 months? Doesn't make sense right?

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