Over the past week or so, there has been a huge about of furor over this article – sorry reg required – from The Globe and Mail. It goes into detail about how common it is for IT Projects to be delivered late and fail in filling expectations.
The real question is: Is 95% accurate? Unfortunately, I'd say that it's probably higher, but I think this number hides something else which is evidenced by this quote:
A new report conducted by market research firm Info-Tech Research Group says 95 per cent of information technology groups “are not delivering some number of projects on time or to the full satisfaction of the business executive.”
Therefore, even if the project is completed according to the original timeline with whatever modified scope, if it doesn't appease the Powers That Be, it would be a failure. Wow. Rough standard. I have been on numerous projects that do exactly as they were planned within the allotted time and cost but don't live up to expectations. Sometimes this is an imagined speed, an imagined workflow, imagined user interface, or a lack of “Gee Whiz” factor.
By all project measures, it is a success. So what went wrong?
The customer's expectations were not managed. It could have been preconceived notions from the start. It could have been a developer promising a particular UI widget. It could have been a developer not challenging the inclusion of a particular UI widget. It could be that the projected savings were wrong. It could be that an important scope change was delayed until the next version.
We, as Project Managers, must identify these issues early in the process and adddress them. Letting them continue on is dangerous for everyone involved. A Project Manager's or Team Leader's job does not end once the requirements are gathered. Functionality, models, and information must be put in front of the customer as early as possible and on a regular basis to find out their expectations.
Don't give your your customer the opportunity to say:
I got exactly what I asked for, but not at all what I wanted.
It would be interesting to see if these figures have been revisited ten years on and how they might still be depressingly similar!
We do try to help people manage their IT projects better but it is a real challenge!