Four reasons why project deliveries fail

Quick Thoughts

7 March 2017 • Written by Madhusree Bandyopadhyay

In the IT industry, failures are sometimes ignored and sometimes rationalised. So we keep making the same mistakes repeatedly. Several industry studies indicate that serious problems exist across a broad cross-section of industries. Here are the top four of the heap:

Technology over people

IT projects are usually viewed as a technology problem and the people factor is often ignored. On average, large IT projects run 45% over budget and 7% over time, while delivering 56% less value than predicted. If there was more stress on how people could work together more effectively, the organisation will increase its implementation success, create better relationships and maximise its ROI.

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Resistance to culture change

66% of software projects overrun costs and 33% overrun schedules. In highly regulated industries that require detailed documentation, there is a tendency to resist the lean approach which Agile advocates. In such environments, more focus towards cultural change and ongoing management support is essential.


Lack of collaboration and colocation

17% of large IT projects go so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company. A key principle of Agile delivery is that testing is integrated throughout the lifecycle, enabling regular inspection of the working product as it develops. Incremental releases are made visible to the product owner and help identify any issues early. Ideally, the whole team may be in the same place. Having co-located, the team speeds up communication and gets better visibility of progress by visual management and shared backlog.


Long delivery cycles

One of the key reasons for good project performance is excelling at core project management practices, such as short delivery cycles and continuous quality check. Here lies the real strength of Agile. Large-size projects, when designed to deliver small-scale functional releases across iterations, are found to be more successful than the traditional project delivery model.


The statistics used above are from a 2012 report released by McKinsey & Company and the University of Oxford.

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