Why Do Most IT Projects Fail?

IT Projects Fail

The world is constantly moving forward. Technologies are shifting and changing, as are your customers and their buying habits. To keep up, you need to constantly review and adjust the way you operate, or risk falling behind. You need to embrace new technologies that help you to achieve your goals.

But even businesses that understand this and try to adapt in this fast-pace, modern world, often find that the technologies they put in place don’t deliver the results that they need. It’s why the internet is filled with people asking, “why do IT projects fail”.

Well, let’s start from the beginning.

What Is An IT Project?

The term ‘IT project’ is an exceptionally broad one. It could (and often does) refer to new technologies that a business brings on board, or it could mean running a thorough IT audit on all of the existing technologies your company has put in place over the past decade. It can be implementing new cyber security protocols, or training your people to ensure that they know how to react when they detect a threat. One of the most popular IT projects that we run on a regular basis are cloud migration services.

When it boils down to it, an IT project is a long-term technology task aimed at furthering your business and helping you to meet and exceed your goals.

Now that we understand what an IT project is, we can start to look a little further into the question of why IT projects fail.

What Percentage Of IT Projects Fail?

Now that you know how varied IT projects can be, it may come as even more of a shock to learn that the vast majority (around 70%) of IT projects that companies try to put in place, fail.

Where does this stat come from?

There have been plenty of studies conducted over the years, from as early as 2009. Back then, the failure rate (according to the International Data Corporation) was around 25%, though the requirement for ‘failure’ was quite staunch, not taking into consideration IT projects which had to be adjusted and reworked, or those that didn’t result in a return on investment.

A study by the Boston Consulting Group done in 2020, on the other hand, saw the board almost entirely flipped, with only 30% of IT projects successfully adding value to businesses.

Why Do IT Projects Fail So Often?

A 70% failure rate is a whopping figure that can be hard to wrap your head around, and can leave you wondering what on earth is contributing towards the failures, and what businesses like your can do to flip the script. There are 5 main problems that cause most IT projects to fail, and you’ll be pleased to learn that these issues are not insurmountable, especially when you’ve got the right IT project services and management team on your side.

  • Poor Planning & Direction

The problem: Most businesses go into IT projects without a real idea of what is involved, or what could go wrong. They decide that they want to implement a certain technology, for example, and want it to be done yesterday. They don’t allow time for thorough planning, implementation and adoption. The priority is change for change’s sake. This only ever leads to frustration, overspending and, ultimately, failure.

The solution: An essential part of IT project management is strategic technology planning. This is a multi-faceted process which often includes reviewing existing technologies to understand their capabilities and vulnerabilities, budgeting for future enhancements, and investing the right future technology implementations that will add maximum value to your business.

  • Taking On An IT Project Without A Proper Idea of What Costs Are Involved

The problem: Advancing technologies are incredibly exciting, and it’s not uncommon for people to get swept away in the idea of how amazing a technology might be. They look at how much it costs, and are surprised to show that the initial outlay is affordable. So they take the leap and decide to put their money where their mouth is. Only to find that the initial outlay is only the smallest fraction of the overall cost of implementing the technology as an IT project.

The solution: Once again, planning ahead can help in this instance. Putting an IT roadmap in place that covers the technologies you want to implement can help you to budget for them. Or you may find that the cost involved in implementing a technology over time is simply not worth the return on investment that you’ll achieve. Or that it won’t further your business goals. These are all legitimate concerns that can be addressed by planning and budgeting ahead to get a better idea of the real cost involved in the IT project’s management.

  • No Risk Mitigation Strategy

The problem: No business wants to think about failure, but the fact is that when it comes to IT project management, there is a distinct risk of things going wrong. Not just that, but by putting technologies in place without the proper planning or risk mitigation, you stand the chance of becoming a victim to unpredictable vulnerabilities that can threaten not just your project success, but your business continuity.

The solution: Acknowledging IT project risks and planning for them, as well as putting plans in place that address other threats and areas of concern such as disaster management, will increase the likelihood of success exponentially. Having a plan in place in case things go awry will see everyone involved knowing precisely where their responsibilities lie, and what their roles are in helping you to bounce back and continue on the road to success.

  • Making Decisions Without The Right Input

The problem: More often than not, the people deciding to put IT projects in place are not the people who are going to be directly using the solutions. It happens all the time – management decides that a new technology should be implemented, and goes through the full process of running an IT project from start to finish. Only for their teams to find that the new technology makes their lives harder, rather than easier. The result? No one adopts the new tech, productivity takes a hit, and what could have been a valuable asset to your business is a costly expense instead.

The solution: We’re not saying try to make everyone happy. That’s practically impossible, and a recipe for disaster. But do take into consideration the opinions of the team who will benefit most from the changes that the IT Project will make. Listening to their feedback and taking it on board will help them to feel more valued, and will increase the likelihood of technology being adopted if they feel that their needs are being met, and that the time it will take to get used to a new system will result in their everyday lives becoming less complicated.

  • Little To No Testing

The problem: When setting out on the journey of implementing new technologies, it’s hard to say what problems may arise. Not even the experts put new tech in place without hiccups every single time. The new solutions may not gel well with existing technologies and systems. Or a small annoyance that you experience on a regular basis could evolve into a bigger problem when a new technology is introduced.

The solution: If even the experts don’t always get implementations right first time, every time, then you’ve got to be asking yourself what can possibly be done. And the answer is simple. Testing. Not just one-off check-that-everything’s-fine-and-leave-it-alone king of testing either. We’re talking regular, consistent, systematic testing. Because it’s during the tests that you’ll find the bugs, the hiccups, the incompatibilities, and you’ll have the chance to fix them before they put a strain on your time and resources.

Why Most Solid Systems IT Projects Succeed

We’ve spent the past thousand-odd words in this article answering the question of ‘why do IT projects fail’, but the truth is that most of the projects we put in place… don’t. They succeed. They thrive. They see the companies that we work with every day meeting and exceeding their goals. So, why is that?

It’s pretty simple. We understand how to run IT projects well. We don’t look at an IT project and see a single new technology implementation. When your company comes to Solid Systems and says ‘help us’, we see it as more than an opportunity to show off our exceptional IT support. We see it as the perfect opportunity to grow your business, and ours in turn. We want to see your IT projects succeeding, because it means that we are successful in what we love to do.

Why do most IT projects fail? Because they don’t have a dedicated team with the experience and expertise behind them that Solid Systems offers. Because the companies that put them in place aren’t always thinking strategically and looking at the bigger plan. At Solid Systems, this is what we’re all about – giving you the support and the Managed IT services that you need to step confidently into the future.

What are you waiting for? Book a consult with us today to find out how we can see your IT project become a success.

Michael Claxton

Michael Claxton

Co-Founder and CEO of Solid Systems | I am a father of two, and a mentor of many. My calm focus makes me a natural leader, both in and out the office, and I have a unique skill in nurturing leadership qualities in others as well. But most of all, I understand the true value of time and the ways that technology can optimise efficiency within a business and see humans making the most of the time available to them, both in terms of productivity, and in terms of personal growth. 

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