As many as 25% of all IT projects fail. Another 25% don’t show measurable ROI and nearly 50% need rework before they are completed. Failed projects can take a big chunk out of the bottom line, so why do so many go sideways?
Here are some of the biggest reasons why your IT projects fail and actionable advice on how to prevent those pitfalls.
The Problem: Poor Communication
IT projects are complex. There are many people involved and role clarity can be difficult to discern, project requirements can become confusing and management of those requirements can lead to even greater difficulty. Keeping the lines of communication open and ensuring every person on the project receives clear messages can be challenging.
You can aid communication through project management software that requires project team members to post all communication in one location, rather than having side conversations via email or instant messaging applications. It is also important to encourage frequent communication at all levels.
The Problem: An Undefined or Poorly Defined Problem
Teams cannot develop effective solutions if the problem is not clearly defined. This includes underlying issues that can change the nature of the problem.
Before launching a project, it is important to understand the business issues of the problem. Who does it impact? Why? What is the source of the issue? What will success actually look like? By asking these questions, you can better define the problem and design an effective solution.
The Problem: Poor Planning
It’s not enough to clearly define the problem. The path to a solution requires a clear plan. It’s easy to want to rush a project, but the time it takes to map out the work is well worth the effort. Without a plan, the scope is often unclear and timelines can be off track, which can spell disaster.
Before starting any project, managers and leads should work together to outline the project and plan a path to successful completion, building in plenty of time for potential issues along the way.
The Problem: Focusing Too Much on Cutting Costs
Cost control is absolutely necessary for success. If projects continually blow out their budgets, the company will lose money. However, setting inadequate budgets will almost always ensure project failure. Underfunded projects can lead to missed deadlines, ineffective features, quality problems and other critical issues. Cutting corners won’t necessarily lead to a better outcome, and the issues created by poor budgeting can actually cause a project to be even more expensive in the long run.
Tech leaders need to be comfortable setting accurate budgets. In tech, like so many other areas, you get what you pay for.
The Problem: You Have the Wrong People In Place
Failing to define the problem, work out a plan, communicate and set an accurate budget can often mean your project is poorly staffed. The right people need to be in the right seats at the right time in order to ensure success.
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