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Arm against IT project failure

Nearly half of all IT projects fail and the seeds of failure are often planted early in the process by failing to prepare properly and truly understand the return on investment that you can expect from an IT project.

Research results published in the Harvard Business Review, which looked at more than 1470 technology change projects globally, show that the average time and cost over-run are approximately 27 percent. This is only the average result, so if the project fails to deliver any return at all, or if the time and costs blow out massively, the results are far worse.

The research also identified a class of project they dubbed ‘black swans’. These are the one in six projects that suffer cost blowouts of 200 percent-plus and time overruns of 70 percent-plus. That’s more than 15 percent of projects that could be called an astronomical failure.

Rushing ahead to select and implement a system without a deep understanding of the business’ needs, or of the full investment required, is a recipe for trouble.

Similarly, if you’re already in the midst of a project that is well over time and budget already, it may be worth stopping to reassess. Depending on the specific circumstances, it may be time to stop throwing good money after bad, cancel the project, capture the lessons learned, and regroup for a better prepared effort in the future.