Why do IT Projects Fail?

10 years, 6 dozen reports, and 1 common enemy year in and year out for the large scale IT project.  I’ve combed through volumes of data from sources including the Project Management Institute, Gartner, IBM, Harvard Business Review, Forbes – any and all information I could take in on why IT projects fail throughout the past 10 years.  There is a single perpetrator that time and time again, over countless incidence spanning the last decade (and probably beyond) continues to find its way in to the core of every IT project that went sideways.   So what is this virus-like phenomenon?

Project Failure

Human Capital Corruption

The most common reason listed among the typical top 10 or top 5 reasons IT projects fail is Human Capital Corruption (HCC).  Like data corruption, it is often undetected until it’s too late.  It can occur at any level within the system – Project Managers, Business Analysts, Developers, Architect’s, you name it!  HCC is when key people are pulled completely  away or have their attention diverted from the project – usually to go back to their main duties.  HCC is people losing motivation or a dedicated interest in the project due to disruptions, temporary setbacks, and incremental failures.  HCC is when an employee on the project is recruited to work for another company.  HCC has many ugly faces all of which will turn your IT project to stone.  The main causes of HCC are rooted within the lack of identifying which components of the project require subject matter expertise.  Can a qualified PM manage a project of any variety?  Should you pull your best developers away from their core responsibilities to take on this new initiative?  Are you over-extending your internal resources?

IT Failure 2

How to save your IT Project

The flow of information and time to act make every IT project dynamic.  The questions asked above are just a few that will invariably receive different answers as new information and time changes are introduced into the project.  There are a variety of methods that you are probably already using to answer the question of discovery and help ensure accountability and awareness.  This should lead you to determining the need for subject matter experts to play specific roles that will strengthen your team.  So who do you pick?

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