Why do so many projects not deliver against their objectives?

By Colin Gray on

Why is it that after a prolonged procurement and partner selection process, many IT projects often end up not being delivered or achieving the outcomes originally intended?

I recently discussed this question with a client, and we agreed that there were many common reasons including:

  • Unclear goals and objectives
  • Inadequate requirements definition
  • Unrealistic timeline leading to project fatigue and loss of momentum
  • Poor project planning
  • Ineffective communications

We had both experienced several instances where budgets were in place, contracts had been awarded, IT was fully engaged and ready to go, but after initial workshops or planning activities, these projects seemed to lose momentum or ended up getting side-lined for some reason. Talking through these scenarios, we agreed there are several less obvious reasons for project failure such as:

  • Lack of support and involvement by Senior Execs or Heads of Department
  • Lack of engagement from the business
  • Cultural challenges with the adoption of new technologies

Transformation is more than a technology implementation

Thinking more broadly about the topic of change management, where digital transformation is one of the key business drivers, one mistake many organisations often make is thinking that transformation is all about technology!

It’s not actually technology that improves your business, it’s transforming the way you communicate and deliver success to your customers that makes the real difference!

Before starting any transformation initiative you should always ask the question ‘Tell me the big leap forward you are looking for and then I will let you consider the technology that can make this a reality!’

One other challenge we have seen is where Senior Management within the business often abdicate responsibility for defining their future technology direction to the IT Department. This is not a good idea as, in general your IT teams do not know what expectations your organisations clients have or what services and outcomes they need to work effectively with your business.

Working together towards a shared vision

We concluded that the above situation often occurs due to a historic lack of alignment between IT Departments and the wider business users. Some organisations have fallen into bad habits and working practices where either:

  • IT has decided it knows what is best for the business and just gets on with it; or
  • The business just ignores IT and uses shadow IT to bypass ineffective processes or policy constraints!

One final important area we agreed that is often forgotten about or ignored is whether the project has taken the time to consider the impact of the business change on end users.

If you want a new technology or solution to gain wide adoption and be used to its full capacity within your organisation, it is essential Senior Management takes the time to explain to the workforce and end-users the reasons why this is important to the organisation’s longer term strategy, why their long established ways of working are being changed and, more importantly, what is in it for them – how will they benefit personally from the proposed changes as well as the wider organisation from the changes being made.

To summarise, in my view, for any successful project outcome to be achieved, both IT and the business need to establish a shared vision plus work, communicate and collaborate better with each other and the workforce to deliver this

If you have a requirement for an upcoming Microsoft-related project, or need help getting an existing project back on track, why not contact us to see how we can help you?

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