By: Omri @SaaSAddict Erel
It is no secret that a large number of IT projects fail.
A study by KPMG found that a staggering 70% of businesses had suffered at least one project failure in the last twelve months and 50% of businesses said that their projects consistently failed to achieve their initial goals.
It may be easy to blame the IT department for failed change projects, but many failures are caused by external factors. A more successful solution would be to address the underlying effects that cause change projects to fail.
Here are five common reasons why IT change projects fail and a few ways to avoid these issues.
Lack of Prioritization of Problems
Even with the best team and the most meticulous plan, things will go wrong. When this happens, it is important to prioritize the most important problems to solve first to keep your project on track. Dealing with each individual problem as it comes or trying to solve all of your issues at once will leave you always playing catch up. Instead, take a step back and figure out what needs to be fixed first in order to keep your project moving forward. A little bit of foresight and planning when it comes to problem solving will help to keep your change project on track.
Lack of Resources
According to a survey by Innotas, 74% of respondents said that the primary reason that change projects failed was a lack of resources to meet demand.
As businesses become more software and application reliant, the role of IT is expanding. However, the resources and personnel allocated to IT have not kept up with the increased demands on the department. One solution to this problem is to have a serious discussion between IT and other departments about what they are capable of doing with their current resources or what resources they need to meet current expectations. The only way to deal with this issue is to establish an open dialogue. IT needs to communicate its resource needs and business leadership needs to be willing to listen.
Poor Planning & Initiation
It may be tempting to jump right in and get started on a problem as soon as possible to meet expectations. However, starting on a project without proper planning will only create more problems in the long run. To limit costly and time-consuming unforeseen hassles, it is important to develop a detailed plan before starting work on a change project. While this may delay the start of the project, it will ultimately save time by reducing future issues.
Lack of Risk Assessment & Contingency Plans
It would be great if everything went according to plan, but what if it doesn’t? A lot of plans lay out a design for the perfect scenario without considering possible contingencies if something goes wrong. Especially where IT is involved. It is important to have a Plan B. That way you and your team will be prepared to adapt when things go wrong, so you can keep your project on course. Making a small change is better than having to give up the project altogether.
Lack of a Clear Goal
How do you know if you have made it, if you do not know where you are going? Without a clear and measurable goal, a lot of IT projects end up making changes as they go, constantly adapting to changing expectations and requirements. All of this can be avoided by developing a list of clear expectations from the start. Develop a list of questions about what your project should achieve and what is beyond your scope. If you do not know the answer to a question, then you need to figure it out before starting work on the project.
Gartner Analysts see a silver lining: “Accepting higher project failure rates can help organizations become more efficient more quickly, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner said project and portfolio management (PPM) leaders who take a “fail-forward-fast” approach that accepts project failure rates of 20 to 28 percent as the norm will help their organizations become more agile by embracing experimentation and enabling the declaration of success or failure earlier in a project’s life.”
IT projects may have a high failure rate, but that does not mean things are hopeless. By recognizing and addressing the issues that cause change projects to fail, you can minimize the risk of failure for your business. With careful planning, the right resources and the ability to adapt well to emerging problems, your IT team will be on the road to success.
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