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Seven Reasons IT Projects Fail

Avoiding these pitfalls will help ensure success

Avoiding these pitfalls will help ensure success
Illustration by Jude Buffum

5. Ineffective Involvement of Executive Management

The participation of an executive sponsor in key operational working sessions is crucial to establish priorities. Project kickoff is the best first meeting, but it doesn’t end there. Executive involvement must be targeted for specific status meetings to monitor project progress, particularly in meetings where go/no-go decisions must be solicited.

6. Lack of Soft Skills or the Ability to Adapt

To prevent a situation in which team members lack the necessary skills for the project, utilize a mentoring approach for less-experienced employees. Also, include required education in the overall project schedule. Actively recruit skilled personnel through internal and external routes like jobs systems. A good outcome will not result without sufficiently skilled people.

7. Poor or Missing Methodology and Tools

Successful projects are based on a methodology or framework that includes project-management tools. This approach can increase accuracy and save time by automating activities like task tracking.

Maintaining a simple, organic methodology can have significant payback on a project. It should include the following:

  • Set up an electronic project notebook.
  • Establish written objectives for the project.
  • Work with the technical lead to establish tasks within phases.
  • Ask team members to estimate the time and number of tasks required.
  • Create a formal project plan and manage to it, including basic change control.
  • Proactively solve problems that may arise.

Finding Success

Improving the success rate of IT projects is possible by putting significantly more focus on general-management activities. It can be daunting at the onset of a project to know the odds indicate major retoolings or even outright failure. But with accurate planning, defined goals, clear assignments and effective communication, proactive managers can overcome those odds to master even the most challenging project.

Simply knowing where potential pitfalls lie can help prevent backlogs and costly delays in the future.

Joseph Gulla is the IT leader of Alazar Press, an imprint of Royal Swan Enterprises. Previously, he was an executive IT specialist at IBM ending his 28-year career with the company in August 2012.

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