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Why Information Technology Projects Fail: Mistakes To Avoid

Nov 3, 2022 | Managed IT Services

People often talk about technology implementations as “failing,” but what does this mean? “Failure” usually means you failed to reach your final goal, but it could also mean that, while you achieved your final goal, you failed at other, smaller goals. The good thing about information technology projects is that goals are mutable, and you can change them depending on your relative priorities.

Avoid These Mistakes During Your Information Technology Projects

Today, the team at Renascence IT Consulting is here to talk about the reasons why information technology projects fail. We will cover the pitfalls management faces when trying to incorporate a new IT system in the workplace and how management teams can avoid complete failures.

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Poor project definition

One of the most common reasons for project failure is also the simplest: bad project definition. One of the first things to ask during IT software development and project planning is the “why”—e.g., what is the purpose of the project? You can set up your performance indicators and key results, but you can’t use them effectively if you have unclear objectives.

Objectives can include tangible goals like assets and deliverables and intangible things like employee motivation and workplace satisfaction. All objectives require a specified timeframe so you can effectively communicate deadlines to the project team.

Keep in mind that project goals are different from objectives. Goals are higher-level milestones that follow a successful project. Objectives are narrower and related to specific project outcomes.

Managers can use SMART criteria to manage goals for the project. SMART is an acronym that identifies adequate criteria for objectives and goals. SMART goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Scope creep

A significant problem during the initial planning and design phases is scope creep. It can start relatively innocuous—you think of a new application to add or a new service to offer. Next thing you know, you have a massive, unwieldy project that results in an inflated cost and schedule overruns.

“Scope creep” is the term when your project expands significantly beyond its original intent and scope. Many failed projects start off reasonably but quickly outpace the development team’s capabilities and resources. Additionally, greater project scope allows for multiple failures.

The trick to avoiding scope creep is to have defined project objectives and capabilities. Staying laser-focused on tangible goals keeps unique projects on timelines and prevents them from falling off track with feature bloat.

Management disinterest

Sometimes, a project fails because management doesn’t take as much interest as they should. Managers might feel they can’t understand IT terminology and leave it entirely in the hands of the development team.

The problem with this approach is that technical employees usually don’t have the same grasp of business strategy as management. Change management teams need to take an active role in understanding the IT project to ensure that technical staff doesn’t accidentally work against business objectives.

Bad project implementation

Project management involves several elements, including planning, design, testing, and installation. Another element of project execution is implementation. Implementation encompasses more than installation and involves end-stage training and development.

Think of it this way: Very few businesses can adopt new software projects without some assistance or support. Often, a reason why information technology projects fail is that they do not have adequate support for users. Teams developing future projects should clearly define the implementation process, just like they would the design and installation process.

Overly-optimistic scheduling

Many employees have been part of a project with unreasonably tight deadlines. Overly-optimistic scheduling can put significant pressure on design teams and increase the project’s failure rate. Pretty much all projects run into schedule delays, so managers need flexible scheduling to accommodate changes to development and implementation timelines.

Inefficient communication

When it comes to organizational change, efficient communication is of the utmost importance. The project manager is likely managing several teams that have relatively little communication with one another. Often, project failures are due to mundane communication breakdowns, such as scheduling conflicts, budget overruns, and poor risk management.

In that sense, effective communication encapsulates goals and business requirements so employees can understand reasons for changes. The organizing committee must have clear, effective communication channels they reinforce through consistent use.

Users cannot adopt the product

Change management also suffers when project teams neglect the user end of the new system. Addressing end-user desires is a core element of product management that determines success. IT systems allow several technological possibilities, but it won’t matter if users fail to embrace or adopt the IT project. 

As such, interface design should be a top priority for project managers. Creating an intuitive interface for major technological projects is one of the more challenging aspects of project management and a common factor in project failure, but it ultimately determines how readily users in the market adopt novel data management solutions.

Insufficient testing and feedback can lead to information technology projects Failing

Many people don’t realize it, but project design does not end when users adopt the product. User feedback provides a kind of retrospective assessment that allows larger projects to fine-tune performance to meet user desires. Incorporating feedback enhances future project performance and contributes to project success rates.

Part of testing and incorporating feedback involves addressing technical issues. It also requires tweaking interfaces and design elements to create a more satisfying user experience. Feedback allows for more consistent digital transformation that meets client demands.

Contact Us For Packaged IT Solutions

Renascence IT Consulting offers full-service managed IT and cybersecurity solutions for commercial enterprises. As expert technology partners, we seek to help the increasingly ambitious players in the tech sphere with our consistent and standard IT practices. Our organizational technologies can increase your productivity, enabling easy management and more efficient business processes.

Now that you know why information technology projects fail, read our blog to learn more about the consequences of a data breach. If you would like to discuss options for IT management and protection, contact us online or call today at (510) 552-6896 to schedule a consultation!

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With more than 30 years of industry experience under his belt, the company's CEO possesses a degree in Computer Science and a number of certifications, including MCSE, MCSA, A+ and Network+. From an early age, computers were always a part of his life; dating back to the days of the Apple II. Since that time, he served as everything from system administrator to IT business director within well-established companies, before deciding that consulting was his passion. Leveraging years of technical recruiting, he personally handpicked a select group of specialists proficient in Linux, customized web applications and databases, telephony and cross-platform devices, to ultimately bring your organization to the next level.