“Our problem is that commonsense is often ignored in systems projects”  —— Dorsey (2000)

No IT Project fails for a single reason. The reasons for project failure can be numerous. One of the characteristics of unsuccessful projects:

“Unsuccessful projects bad fix injection rate is 20%; Successful projects bad fix injection rate is 2%”.

That means, in an unsuccessful project, every 5 bug fixes will inject one new defect in project. If we avoid IT project failures, lot of money can be saved, organizational efficiency and productivity can be improved, and operational costs can be reduced. Very little research was done on failure factors of IT projects. Hence, based on the importance of knowing about IT project failures, I did a research survey of 33 scholarly published conceptual and empirical studies in International Journal of Project Management, IEEE Spectrum, IEEE Software, ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems, CrossTalk: The Journal of Defense Software Engineering, Harvard Business Review, and IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.

Research Question: I started with research questions of What factors lead to IT project failure?, What are the most Critical Failure Factors (CFFs) of IT projects?, and What categories of factors lead to IT project failure?

CFFs Conceptual Model: First 66 individual factors leading to IT project failure are identified from literature review. Later on, these factors were categorized into 6 categories of project failure factors. The designed conceptual model consists of the categories of factors leading to IT project failure such as Environmental factors, Organizational factors, Team factors, Project factors, Technology factors, impacting Project Management factors, which in turn impact Project Failure.

Research Findings: Top-10 Critical Failure Factors (CFFs) were found from the 66 identified factors based on reference count in surveyed literature. They include (in decreasing order of preference):

Top-10 Critical Failure Factors (CFFs) of IT Projects

SL.No. Top-10 CFFs for IT Projects SL.No. Top-10 CFFs for IT Projects
1. Poor Project Planning 6. Unclear Schedules/Deadlines
2. Unclear Project Objectives and Goals 7. Scope Creep
3. Inappropriate Estimates 8. PM Methodology/Process Used
4. Lack of Senior Management Involvement, Commitment and Support 9. Ineffective Communication
5. Lack of Risk Management 10. Vague Requirements and Scope

Other Findings: When project becomes large, risk management becomes critical impacting project failure. Project failure rate is high in applied disciplines. The percentage of IT project failures reported by various researchers across the world range from 9% to 40%. Among Environmental factors lack of user involvement, among Organizational factors, lack of senior management involvement, support and commitment; among Team factors, lack of project management skills, among Project Factors, unclear project objectives and goals; among Project Management factors, poor project planning; among Technology factors, misalignment of IT and business processes, are identified as critical leading to failure of IT projects.

Interesting Finding is most failure factors of IT projects are predictable and avoidable;

To Explore/Read More: Sudhakar, G.P. (2016), “Critical Failure Factors (CFFs) of IT Projects”, Presented@National Conference on Management Research-2016, ICBM–School of Business Excellence, Hyderabad, India, 24 September, 2016; Published in UDAAN: The International Journal of Management Research, Vol.4, No.2, July-Dec 2016, pp. 31-51.

Download Link (free) :  http://www.gpsudhakar.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/UDAAN%20Vol.%204%20No.%202%20July%20-%20December%202016-ICBM-DrGPSudhakar.pdf


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