Why Do Information Technology Projects Fail?

by Blair Turley on October 16, 2019 in Concero, IT



IT is driving the 21st-century economy, but not all IT projects are meant to be. According to a 2017 report by the Project Management Institute (PMI), 14 percent of all IT projects fail. Almost a third of successful projects did not meet their initial goals. More than 4 in 10 exceeded budget and nearly half blew their stated deadline.

Address these six factors to maximize the success of your IT project:

  1. Deliver on the deadline
  2. Meet the set budget
  3. Fulfill the intended function
  4. Achieve use by clients
  5. Satisfy investors
  6. Meet the original goal

If your project fulfilled all six criteria, we can safely say it was a success. Trying to balance all six points can be challenging in the best of times. Using these criteria, however, we invite you to look at why so many IT projects fail, so you can avoid the same happening to yours.

Here’s what to do to meet all six factors.

1. Define the project

What does the client want? Did the project manager understand the client’s needs? Too many projects fail due to misunderstandings and lack of communication.

Before embarking on a project, allow no uncertainty regarding the project’s goal. The project creators must meet the people that will make it happen. Drifting project objectives are responsible for a whopping 36 percent of project failures. By avoiding misunderstandings and keeping everyone on the same page, you can limit failure significantly for an IT project.

2. Avoid leadership and management failure

Flexibility, excellent communication and effective management are vital. The development team must be able to think outside the box and come up with original and practical solutions for the problems they encounter. It’s also wise for progress to be measured and reviewed regularly.

Ignoring practical evidence in favor of following a profoundly optimistic and theoretically sound project plan is a recipe for failure. Theory rarely mirrors reality. Maintaining a goal-oriented attitude while respecting the original goals and needs of the client is a better way to go.

Another vital aspect to take into account is how implicated the client or sponsors are in the project. According to the PMI report, 27 percent of tech projects failed due to sponsors pulling out. The leadership role for an IT project should involve keeping people up to date about the impact of the project and excited regarding its progress and its objectives.

3. Budget

Failure to balance a budget is another reason projects fail. The main factor affecting budgets is poor initial estimation.

The budget for any project is often thought of as an educated “guesstimate,” especially in the initial phases. Inexperienced managers tend to propose wildly optimistic project budgets. They often ignore the things that can and will go wrong on a project. Budgeters must look unflinchingly at this unpopular collection of problems, however, and adjust the budget accordingly.

Mining data for similar projects is a much better way to provide an estimate, so as to not depend on human perception. How long similar project took and what the costs were is a more accurate way to estimate the budget.

4. Hone time management skills

Lack of personnel, underestimating the time needed to bring the project to fruition, and even technical issues with data or equipment can delay a project. The sound of a clock ticking often proceeds the sound of nails hammered into the lid of an IT project.

Just as with budgeting, the best policy is to add what seems like extra time to the initial estimate. If things go without a hitch, the project will beat the deadline. The client will rejoice. If not, you’ll have some leeway to fix the situation before the deadline.

5. Motivate the teams

Updating everyone involved in the project can be challenging. It can be unpleasant too, if the project encounters unexpected difficulties. However, project leaders must keep clients, team members, and specialists up-to-date and motivated throughout.

Procrastination accounts for a massive 11 percent of all project failures. A successful IT project is one in which everyone understands the stage of the project and is moving in the same direction as everyone else.

Keep your eyes open and stare down those hard truths that accompany project planning. Here’s one that applies to almost any service: you can categorize most services as good, cheap or fast. At most, you can have two at once. Succeeding in an IT project means understanding that. It means being realistic about primary goals and their obstacles, likely or otherwise. It’s about measuring progress and keeping everyone involved on track. It means being realistic and trying to avoid the planning fallacy, which means that humans tend to underestimate time and costs and overestimate the benefits.

With paying attention to these factors, there’s a chance those failed IT projects could have been a success. How would those projects impact our world?

Are you an IT professional with management and leadership skills who wants to breathe life into valuable IT projects? Contact me at Concero Technology Group. We’ll help you find a place where you can be part of a successful team.


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