14 June 2010

What Dooms IT Projects? —Again

Ziff's Baseline Magazine treats us to yet another slide show about IT project failure in this deck by Dennis McCafferty.

It trots out the usual suspects: Lack of user involvement, unrealistic timelines, poorly-developed requirements, etc. This time it's based on an uncited Standish Group report that seeks to explain a 35% failure rate.

As always, when you put it all together, it adds up to poor planning: when you look at what actually happened and ask what was in the plan, you find that the model bears little resemblance to the reality.

To have a chance of success, a project has to have a realistic, comprehensive plan whose model is close to what experience tells us is the reality. It needs a crystal clear objective, measurable success criteria,  intelligently estimated timelines, resource allocations that account for risk, and plans for dealing with unknowns.

I love it when a plan comes together, but not when it's by accident.