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Points Of Project Failure
IT/IS projects are undertaken to resolve business problems and align processes
and tactics with business strategies. The causes of IT/IS project failure usually
can occur at three different stages of the project life cycle. The first point of
potential project failure is the problem definition phase. At the beginning of any
project, the problems being addressed must be well understood and defined. If
the problems that are being addressed are vague and unclear, it will not be
possible to identify the Scope of Work to be performed. Thus, the Statement of
Work, which documents exactly what is to be accomplished, will be incorrect.
Poor scope definition is equal to misunderstood user requirements. Therefore, if
the final IT/IS deliverable can be built and delivered on time and within budget, it
is unlikely to meet the objectives of the stakeholders because these objectives
were not understood to begin with.

The second point of potential IT/IS project failure can occur during the
development phase. Even if the business problem definitions are well understood
and a precise Statement of Work is written, the company may be
over-committed to multiple projects and new technologies. Thus, the IT/IS staff
and management are trying to manage and work on multiple projects while
learning and implementing new technologies with unrealistic deadlines. Usually,
what are produced are IT/IS solutions that lack the desired functionality to solve
the business problems.

The third point of potential project failure is during the deployment phase. If the
IT/IS project is on time, within budget and according to specifications, serious
problems can occur at the deployment of the final deliverable. In the case of an
application development project, it is a false assumption that the end users
require little or no training. Without training, it impossible for the end users to
realize the full business benefits of the application. Thus, the new application will
most probably be underutilized or used incorrectly or not at all.

These are not the only problems that can occur at the three points. However,
these three points are, typically, where problems occur.

The cost of IT/IS failures is just as shocking as the rate of failure. Of the
IT/IS projects that were cancelled before completion, the total cost was
$81 billion. Of the projects that were completed, 52.7% are 189% over
budget at a cost of $59 billion. Much of the budget overrun is related to
the 222% time overrun. Hence, IT/IS project failures, in one form or
another, cost over $140 billion!
Copyright 2008
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