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Why are so many IT projects failing?

Sharon Florentine | Dec. 5, 2013
A recent study reports that 50 percent of companies had an IT project fail in the last 12 months. Business leaders who blame IT are missing the real project management issues.

This shift puts an increasing burden on IT departments to deliver these valuable applications, even if they're overworked, understaffed, and have no way to prioritize projects, he says. And because IT is seen by many C-level executives as a cost center instead of a value-add for business, it can be hard to decline projects, he says.

"The shift to an application-centric approach means there's no shortage of demand for project managers to handle these projects. But what IT might say 'yes' to today could be irrelevant in six months, so they need to better prioritize their pipeline. Unfortunately, because there's always this dark cloud of 'What value do you have? You're a cost center,' they feel they have to agree to everything, even if they can't possibly get it done," he says.

This view of IT as a cost center dates back to the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and its aftermath, when previously bloated IT departments saw their budgets slashed and their headcount severely reduced, says Kern.

While the value of IT in delivering solutions and applications to the business has certainly increased, the C-level perception of IT as a cost center has not shifted, Kern says.

"Consolidation and cost-cutting have really taken their toll, and there's not a lot of incentive for businesses to get beyond cost-cutting. That's the wrong conversation to have. Relative to the [Innotas] survey, that says we have a bunch of failing projects, but we don't have the people or resources to manage them properly," Kern says.


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