Why do so many IT Projects struggle to complete on time and in budget?
Project Management is a key skill and resource for any business. I think we can all agree on that. It’s a massive industry full of very clever people with accreditations, degrees and most using the latest, greatest software to make their difficult jobs a lot more streamlined and efficient.
Then why do so many projects fail or go so far over budget?
Go a little further, beyond focusing on project management in general, IT projects are notoriously difficult to plan, budget, execute and deliver within the expected timeframe.
The numbers behind these claims?
- Almost 1/3 of IT projects go over budget, according to Forbes
- 1/5 overspend by an eye-watering 200%
- Overspending is generally tied in with a schedule overrun, 70% longer on average
- Only 2.5% of projects were completed totally successfully within the original scope, on-time and under budget, according to a PWC study of over 10,000 IT projects.
- 17% of failed projects threaten the survival of the business.
But what causes these failures? Is it the software? The goals? The approach? All of the above?
“Better software must be the answer?”
Let’s put that to bed straightaway. At Planet IT we are constantly approached by companies claiming to have the latest and greatest project management solutions that we can either use ourselves or re-sell to clients. Certainly, the right software package can make a job easier, but it’s a tool to use, nothing more.
“Should everyone be using SCRUM or AGILE techniques?”
Once again, these methods and techniques can help, but are like the software, not going to save your project.
“Unrealistic objectives, lack of set goals or milestones?”
Now you’re thinking along the right lines! It’s not necessarily the poor objectives, missing goals or even scope creep – it’s more the people that set the objectives and allow variance from the plan that’s the problem!
That’s right, projects struggle to succeed because of the people!
All of the software, tools and tricks are no substitute to a project delivered with proper processes, procedures, monitoring and communication, with a professional approach by an expert in that field.
You wouldn’t ask the best logistics PM to plan and execute an IT Project, just like you wouldn’t ask an IT PM to execute a skyscraper construction plan.
The problem isn’t that it’s an IT project. Complicated technology does not cause the shortfalls, it can be that the wrong people are operating and interacting with tech they cannot handle, poor SoW, Lack of information divulged by the internal project sponsor, senior people within the business changing the scope without understanding the process and the knock on affects, outside factors could even be business requirements change within the project delivery. It could be so many factors and so many reasons why a project can be delayed, changed, late or even fail. It all comes down to proven processes within the Project Management of each stage of the project and ensuring that the whole team fully understands and follows it.
Learning in Practice
Our IT project managers, as well as the top PM’s at other big IT companies, have years of experience behind them. They have delivered countless large and complex tasks. They have become proficient on the job, spending time in the trenches building that competence through actually doing it! They are recruited and nurtured due to their previous successful project experience, their leadership abilities, their communication skills, their ability to work in teams and the basic skills and competencies necessary to complete technology projects successfully.
Technology is constantly evolving. We hear that all the time. However, so too is the IT project manager. They grow with the latest tech, software, practices and executions. We regularly see (but rarely ask) our PM’s to complete training in their spare time. They live and breathe their work and thrive on being the best at delivering structured solutions to complex dilemmas.
At Planet IT, we’re very lucky that we are high level partners with the major technology vendors. It means we have access to new training as soon as it’s available. And to the experts who flourish on being the best… well, they feed on the knowledge that they are at the top of their industry and strive to prove it though delivering time and time again.
Communicate Clearly and in Time
Pair that technical expertise to the ability to communicate effectively and you’re looking at a very good IT Project Manager.
Some people are genius at what they do. However, sometimes they struggle to get a point across. IT experts often have a bad reputation for talking too technical to people not as technical as they are. It’s a reputation that is unfortunately earned for a reason. Points need to be shared business wide. There are going to be stakeholders that don’t have the expertise of others, but still need to understand how all cogs work together.
Building the right plan, with clear milestones and deliverables is essential. Having just that yet not sharing it succinctly is criminal. As is not sharing updates, wins and any hic-cups that might arise – because they often do, out of anyone’s control.
Unforeseen problems do occur throughout almost all projects, communicating in a timely fashion to the project sponsor, building in captures and following the process when something doesn’t quite go to plan. Change of scope is never good to hear however it’s better to communicate at the source and when the issue occurs rather than sitting on the problem, this helps drive a new albeit slightly different path for the Scope of Work at the earliest point rather than waiting for further problems or longer delays.
The Planet Difference
At Planet IT, we believe in the Planet difference: our experts’ abilities, determination and commitment to the project. They never leave a project unfinished and to always resolve the unexpected, wherever it occurs.
Good PM’s are here to lead the way, ensuring due process is followed and goals are achieved on budget, on time and as expected.
How do we do this?
✅ Strategy – Initial audits, research, and advice
✅ Design – Clear solution designs against business case
✅ Transition – Project approval through to project start and procurement
✅ Operation –Implementation and monitoring
✅ Improvement –Change management and client review
If you’d like to take a closer look at our process, we’re happy to offer a free walk through of our proven project formula for those companies looking at IT changes and might want a professional help – just send me an email to arrange – [email protected]
Similarly, if you’d like to read more about our work, check our our Project Management page or download our Skills Matrix:
Certainly, IT projects are difficult. There are lots of things that can be pointed out as the cause of failure:
- Clear project process
- Poorly defined scope
- No use of formal methods & strategies
- Lack of communication
- No defined goals & milestones
- Failure to track progress
- Quick and Responsive to necessary changes
- Ineffective leadership
- Poor technology
- Lack of detail
- Cultural differences
… but what do all of these have in common? The people that deliver the project.
Start there. Get the right, qualified, experienced and proven people to run a project.
Do it right, the first time!