Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Why IT projects go wrong...

Last night I gave a talk to a small but select group of the IEEE at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington. The theme was why projects fail, and how to increase your chances of success.
If I say so myself it wasn't a bad presentation and as is often the case, when you speak in public you recognise the importance of certain things more than when you simply 'knew' them....That may not make sense, but what I am trying to say is that when one articulates an idea into the open it becomes real - a fact of sorts - rather than simply a thought.And that was the case last night, for me at least.
For those interested ping me a message and I will share the slides I used with you. But for this post I just wanted to focus on one key area that I knew to be important but that came out with clarity last night. How to measure what success actually is..We looked at the fact that many projects that fail - only do so through the eyes of one or two sets of stakeholders - and actually succeed through the eyes of others (see slide above).

It seems we gather together views of various stakeholders (though typically not thoroughly enough or broadly enough) but do not then measure our progress against each of these groups on an ongoing basis. We always need to recognise that we cannot keep everyone happy all the time, but my suspicion is that some failed projects were in fact pretty. successful, but that we measured success too narrowly. If I get the chance or time I will write this up more thoroughly and post as a stand alone piece.

Also to say that I got the draft of the article for Intelligent Enterprise off to the editor yesterday (phew!). It should become the cover feature of June's edition - and for those of you who do not currently read or subscribe to this magazine I highly recommend it. AIIM coming up soon, if you are to be there drop me a note and we can say hello.


russ stalters said...


Interesting post. I have a slide deck and white paper I will share with you called "Outcome Based Solutions" which deals with this topic from a slightly different approach. I would like to get a copy of your slides you mention in this post.

Also, I thought I would let you know that I have started my Blog called BetterECM. I welcome your feedback.

I will be at AIIM and will be moderating a Panel Discussion entitled "The Future of ECM" scheduled on Tuesday at 10:15AM. Hope you can make it. I plan to attend your session. See you there.

Best Regards,

alan pelz-sharpe said...

Hi Russ, lets definately say hello at AIIM (slides on the way). However I may not be there on the tuesday but will see what I can do. At worst I will point out your discussion to my colleagues in the ECM teams and get feedback :-)
I'll check out the blog and link today.

George Parapadakis said...

Hi Alan,

Back in the halcyon days when I used to manage projects for a living, we had a golden rule: There are only ever two reasons why a project will fail: Bad planning and Bad change management. I don't know what the outcome of your discussion was, but I bet that all likely causes can ultimatly be traced back to these two :-)

See you in Philly


alan pelz-sharpe said...

thanks George - it seems that this topic has really touched a nerve (the feedback from the event itself has been really quite interesting) - its something I definately want to do more on.

Looking forward to seeing you in Philly too - you will join me in the exclusive MIT club :-)