Your Guide to Software Selection

10 Reasons Why IT Projects Fail

IT projects fail far too often — ZDNet has estimated 68% don’t succeed.

This is a painful truth. But SelectHub can help you find and implement the right solutions to keep that failure rate from describing your project.

ComputerWorld has identified a number of ways IT projects fail. Here are our top 10 along with our recommendations on how SelectHub can help.
1. Having a poor or no statement of work.

Bryan Fangman, senior project manager at Borland, says:

“I’ve seen many projects encounter troubles due to the lack of a well-defined project scope. Despite the best planning efforts, change is inevitable, so having a clear statement of work up front is essential in getting agreement with the customer on what will actually be accomplished.”

A poorly constructed statement of work (or absence of one) will lead to ambiguities that are hard to resolve and you will never truly know when the project is finished.

This goes along with:

2. Not setting expectations up front.

Tim Garcia, CEO at Apptricity, notes:

“Before we start any projects, I make sure that everyone on both the customer team and project team have a clear, documented understanding of two primary things: What we are going to do, and how we know when we are done.”

Without documented agreement on the answers to these two questions, the project is in danger from the start.

What #1 and #2 boil down to is a lack of clear requirements. And that’s essentially a communication and coordination problem caused by lack of stakeholder alignment. Some of it’s because stakeholders are too busy to fully participate in these projects. Or sometimes they’re the victims of outdated communications tools such as emails, spreadsheets, and static intranet portals which make it easy for team input to drop through the cracks.

We’ve designed SelectHub to make it easy for the right people to collaborate together and share their input by ensuring all requirements are centrally captured and available for technology evaluations. This largely eliminates the above communications and coordination problems.

Our CEO Venkat Devraj says, “Think of it like Facebook. Before Facebook existed, people still shared their photos and activity updates with friends and family via email. However it was easy to miss certain updates or miss including certain contacts within the emails. What Facebook changed was the way you communicated those status updates. You connected with the people you cared about and posted your updates once in a single place and everybody that was connected to you saw the update! Talk about efficiency in communications! That’s what SelectHub brings to requirements analysis in IT Projects.”

3. Not securing management buy-in.

Brad Clark, COO at Daptiv, says:

“Executing a project without securing sponsor support is not only counter-productive but also a recipe for disaster. It’s imperative to be on the same page with the sponsor for a project to move in the desired direction and get organizational buy-in.”

With SelectHub, organizations can set up automated controls such as adding relevant stakeholders or their requirements to a project based on the associated spend category. This ensures managers that should have visibility on these projects are brought into the loop early on so project stakeholders do not end up spinning their wheels.

4. Using the same methodology for all size projects.

Robert Longley, a consultant at Intuaction, a coaching and consulting company explains:

“Most project management methodologies have a standard set of key tasks and deliverables for enterprise IT projects.”

Most methodologies are designed around projects of a certain size (i.e., $1 million plus). If you have a project that is $100,000 and you try to use the standard approach, you may find that it costs more to do the deliverables than it does to do the actual project.

Companies need the flexibility and speed for teams to work on any size project without IT having to sacrifice the visibility and controls it needs to mitigate risk.

SelectHub offers a modular solution to address this. For example, for larger projects that involve in-house hosting of a software product, companies can use the Proof-of-Concept (POC) Module for their technical due diligence. However if the software being evaluated is a SaaS product, companies can skip the POC Module altogether, sign up for a simple trial and compile their feedback within SelectHub.

5. Overloading team members.

Dan Schoenbaum, the CEO of Teambox, a cloud-based collaboration and project management company says:

“Your team members are not machines. Pay attention to how much work each individual member is assigned. If one member is overloaded, the end product will suffer. Utilize the strengths of your team and spread out the workload as much as possible. This will avoid overwhelming your team.”

SelectHub is built to split the load across the team. For instance, based on their role within the project, specific team members can be assigned as Lead Evaluator to individual product evaluations within that project. That way, multiple technical and functional subject matter experts are utilized and no individual team members are over-burdened.

6. Not having a clearly defined decision-making process.

Tim Garcia, CEO for Apptricity says:

“While user involvement and feedback are critical, successful projects also need a clear and defined decision-making process. Project teams should embrace change, but change decisions need authoritative approval, agreement and documentation. Understanding the process and chain of command keeps everyone reading from the same playbook.”

SelectHub offers a granular role-based access control system. Certain roles such as Project Manager and Budget Owner have the ability to drive decisions and authorize corresponding actions within the project. Other roles such as Technical Evaluator and Project Participant can contribute their opinions, gather data from vendors and influence the project. This brings transparency and clarity to the project.

7. Not being a team player.

Hilary Atkinson, director of Project Management at Force 3 explains:

“Every project has a team that is expected to work together to successfully complete the work. The project manager is the hub of the team, the process and the solution. Yet many young or new project managers make decisions without consulting with the team and without gaining approval. Without that communication and approvals, the project is headed for disaster. The project manager cannot manage a project schedule, budget or scope without the team.”

SelectHub is designed to help project managers and their teams work together on every aspect of technology evaluation, while keeping project activities and decision-making transparent and auditable.
Project managers can not only collaborate with other stakeholders in real-time, but also point to specific team feedback, ratings and preferences to demonstrate the product selection and associated decisions were made in a consensus-driven manner.

8. Too many, too long status meetings.

Liz Pearce, the CEO of LiquidPlanner tell us:

“Nothing sucks the life out of a team more than a status meeting. Sure, there’s some important information in there, but all too often the same information could have easily been shared through a collaborative system.”

Simplicity and speed are more important than ever in today’s work environment. It needs to be extremely easy for stakeholders to provide input and move on. And when their opinions change based on new data they have gathered, they need to be able to come back and change their assessment of specific products. You can do all this through SelectHub without sitting through hours of brain-numbing meetings and conference calls to drive decisions and gain consensus.

9. Not learning from past project management mistakes.

Pearce continues:

“In every completed project plan there is a wealth of intelligence that rarely gets mined. Why did our project ship date slip by a month? How comprehensive were our initial specifications? How accurate was our team at estimating their tasks? A key benefit of using a project management tool is the ability to access the data that can provide answers to these questions. If a team is committed to self-improvement, they’ll reap significant rewards by spending a few hours conducting post-project analysis.”

Analyzing what worked and what didn’t in a technology evaluation starts with obtaining the data. Often times, that data is spread out over multiple documents, spreadsheets and MS Project files, and the context (along with the underlying stakeholders conversations) is lost forever.

SelectHub retains and makes available a complete history of all your technology evaluations. It makes it easy for companies to review and piece together the success criteria, stakeholder decisions and the underlying conversations, making it easier to learn from prior project successes and failures.

10. Not using a project management software system.

Brian Ahearn, CEO, evolphin Software, the developer of digital asset management software notes:

“Excel spreadsheets relegate project managers to manual intervention and worst of all, ‘walk the floor’ status updating. Project managers need a solution that automatically updates project status each time a task is completed, alerts you when a task is past it’s due date and will provide a complete and up to date project status report. The best tools free the project manager from the tyranny of manual reporting and allow them more time to drive critical tasks.”

We agree. This is one of the main reasons we built SelectHub.

Have a product evaluation coming up? Start using SelectHub today.

SelectHub10 Reasons Why IT Projects Fail

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