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Overcoming ICT project failures - A practical perspective

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In today's global economy, exploiting competitive advantage, increasing market share, enhancing efficiency, reducing costs and eliminating bureaucracy are becoming common objectives on the agenda for business owners and organizations. Through the proper implementation and adaption of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) projects, organizations are recognising the ability to realise such goals more effectively. Notwithstanding the strategic recognition of implementing ICT projects however, the ICT industry is consistently faced by a high level of ICT project failures, which is of deep concern to all the business owners, board of directors as well as project managers. The motivation of this paper is to critically analyse the performance of ICT projects whilst establishing the various factors leading to such situations. This is achieved by undertaking a comprehensive and holistic review of prominent reports on a multitude of scenario cases together with in-depth identification of effecting issues leading to reported failures. To add value to the current research a number of suggestions are finally presented that, together with the implemented project management strategy, will assist in ensuring a successful ICT project delivery.
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978-1-4799-0462-4/13/$31.00 ©2013 IEEE
Overcoming ICT Project Failures – a Practical
Perspective
K. Fenech and C. De Raffaele
Middlesex University Malta
Pembroke, Malta
kfenech@gmail.com, cliffordderaffaele@stcmalta.com
Abstract
In today’s global economy, exploiting competitive advantage,
increasing market share, enhancing efficiency, reducing costs and
eliminating bureaucracy are becoming common objectives on the
agenda for business owners and organizations. Through the
proper implementation and adaption of Information and
Communications Technology (ICT) projects, organizations are
recognising the ability to realise such goals more effectively.
Notwithstanding the strategic recognition of implementing ICT
projects however, the ICT industry is consistently faced by a high
level of ICT project failures, which is of deep concern to all the
business owners, board of directors as well as project managers.
The motivation of this paper is to critically analyse the
performance of ICT projects whilst establishing the various
factors leading to such situations. This is achieved by
undertaking a comprehensive and holistic review of prominent
reports on a multitude of scenario cases together with in-depth
identification of effecting issues leading to reported failures. To
add value to the current research a number of suggestions are
finally presented that, together with the implemented project
management strategy, will assist in ensuring a successful ICT
project delivery.
Keywords-ICT project success; ICT project failures; ICT
Governance; ICT project execution; Risk Management
I. INTRODUCTION
Despite the strategic importance and trust placed in
implementing ICT projects, organizations are being faced by
an exorbitant high percentage of ICT project failures. This fact
has been of deep concern for both academics and industry alike
with various studies held by prominent decision makers,
project managers and researchers to identify potential causes
[1-3]. Despite the investment and progress made within the
ICT arena, the high level of ICT project failure rate is still on
the rise and cannot go unnoticed [4-7].
ICT projects pose a unique set of challenges to the project
managers which differ substantially from the characteristics of
traditional non-ICT related assignments [8]. The consistent
advancements in technology in which the ICT projects are
expected to operate leads to a considerable increase in risk and
uncertainty when compared to the non-ICT counterpart which
operate on existing and well-established
technology/infrastructure [9]. Furthermore, apart from the
conventional management of resources such as equipment and
people, ICT projects are also heavily dependent on continuous
user involvement, appropriate risk management strategies and
adoption of the right project management methodology [10].
Another major characteristic assigned with ICT projects is
the dynamic approach adopted due to ever changing scope and
requirements which inherently increase project risk levels
throughout project duration [11]. This high instability and lack
of tangible delivery expectations present a considerable
challenge in order to predefine the criteria which will constitute
project success [12]. This matter has been heavily debated
within literature and a general consensus on the underlying
core dimensions that symbolize project success have converged
to three main criteria of adherence to established timeframes,
allocated budget and compliance to established quality and
specifications [13-15]. These three factors are commonly
referred to as the ‘Iron Triangle’ [16]. Nevertheless, various
alternate studies postulate that such criteria are consistently
evolving and other non-standard metrics like client satisfaction
and cooperation are continuously gaining recognition. This
reflects the fact that individual stakeholders within ICT
projects verify project success from uniquely different personal
perspectives.
Project success is also being affected through the added
complexity of noticeable different elements driving the
implementation of ICT projects within the private and public
sectors. These domains exhibit different characteristics and
challenges which further demand separate and peculiar
approaches due to the different practices and norms in each
respective domain [17].
This paper seeks to identify the main causes which lead to
ICT project failures and proposes a number of practical
initiatives in order to assist stakeholders in overcoming such
difficulties. The remainder of this paper is structured such that
a comprehensive literature review to establish project success
and failure rates is critically analysed within Section 2. Section
3 elicits and combines the sources of such failures on which the
suggestions in Section 4 are founded. Finally concluding
comments are presented within Section 5.
II. ANALYSIS OF ICT PROJECT PERFORMANCE
The concern for lack of ICT project success, which is
becoming the norm rather than the exception [18-20], has been
recognized and researched by various entities which constantly
highlight the difficulties ICT projects are encountering both in
the public and private sectors irrespective of the project
dimensions, organisation, target audience, domain, project size
or geographical location [21]. Notwithstanding the vast range
of criteria that define a successful project it is commonly
established within academia and industry to employ the well
accepted criteria of cost, time and quality/specifications as a
common yardstick for all projects [22]. The study done for the
Harvard Business Review [23] concludes that 16% of the
projects analysed, incurred a cost overrun of over 200% whilst
delivery date was extended by 70% on the original timeframes.
This is corroborated by another independent study by
McCafferty [24] which reveals that 25% of the projects will not
succeed in meeting the requirements, amounting to around $63
billion annually spent on such failed initiatives.
A study commissioned by KPMG [25] on success and
failures of ICT projects in over six hundred organizations
within twenty two different countries resulted in 49% having at
least one project failure during the previous year, 86% of those
analysed lost up to 25% of expected project benefits whilst
only 2% realised the intended ICT project objectives. This
study highlights that such trends are identical for entities within
the public sector which accounted for ninety six organisations
or 16% of the targeted organisations studied.
Whitfield [26] on behalf of European Services Strategy
Unit analysed failed UK ICT projects within the public sector
over a period of ten years. His study on 105 outsourced
projects concluded that 33% suffered a considerable amount of
delays, 30% had their contract prematurely terminated and on
average projects had a cost overrun of 30.5%. Additionally,
57% of projects witnessed an excessive cost overrun
amounting to a total cost of GBP 9 billion [21]. Similar failure
rates were also derived by the OASIG study [22], performed by
45 experts with an average of 20 years of experience within
their field who are employed within Universities or
Consultancy firms. They concluded that a failure rate of 70%
existed in over 14,000 ICT organisations analysed [27].
A domain specific study commissioned by Bull Survey UK
[28] in 203 ICT, telecommunications, finance and business
manufacturing companies transpired that the project
requirements were not met by 37%, whilst 55% went over
budget and over 75% exceeded the established project
timeframe. Considerably, similar figures were attained by the
Tata Consultancy Services which analysed over 800 ICT
projects within 8 different countries. The study revealed that
49% incurred cost overruns, 62% missed established deadlines,
41% failed to achieve the established business value or attain
the expected return on investment and 33% did not meet the
agreed level of expectations [29].
The periodically conducted Chaos report by the Standish
group consistently highlights that within various studies held
over a 15 year period, the success rate criteria were adhered in
respect to cost, time and delivery only in 32% of ICT projects
[30]. From the remaining projects, 44% only succeeded
partially whilst 24% were deemed outright failures. The study
further highlights that such figures alter minimally throughout
the years as evidenced during seven independent studies held
from 1994 to 2009. Such trends seem to be consistent with
similar analysis conducted in Australia, where Murphy [31]
analysed various public sector ICT projects. This study
concluded that actual project cost regularly doubled the
allocated budget, whilst a number of projects experienced
substantial delays where in certain instances this amounted to
200-300% of the original planned timeframes. This frequently
resulted in a lack of materializing project objectives and
expectations. These findings were concurred by Young [32] in
his report targeted towards Australian ICT projects where 15-
28% of ICT projects were abandoned prior to implementation,
around 30% experienced significant cost overruns sometimes
up to 189% and less than 20% had achieved all the established
performance objectives.
These results were further substantiated with the global
study held by Gartner [33] for 845 ICT companies employing
more than 1000 employees and soliciting the assistance of
specialized External Service Providers. This report concluded
that 44% of the analysed projects exceeded budget allocations,
42% failed to be delivered within agreed timeframes and over
42.5% lacked in achieving all expected benefits by the end of
the project.
III. ICT PROJECT FAILURE CRITERIA
As highlighted within each of the concrete industry study
analysed, ICT projects do not fail to achieve success due to a
specific reason, but normally a combination of issues and
factors that were not identified and tackled in due time [20]. In
depth analysis of the reasons mentioned within independent
studies explicitly illustrates a high degree of correlation within
predominant failure factors in ICT projects. Unfortunately, the
provided descriptions tackle such issues from a predominantly
narrow perspective, failing to grasp the holistic implications
each concern delivers.
Following our previous work presented in more detail in
[34], thousands of ICT projects were collectively examined
within 13 independent prominent reports which elicited 109
non-unique failure criteria. In [34], each of the failure criteria
highlighted from the various practical case-studies were
analysed and grouped under three groups which are evidently
largely responsible for project failures. These fundamental
failure pillars of Project Planning and Direction, Project
Management and Execution, and User Management, although
intrinsically related are distinct enough to provide a universal
understanding of challenges faced within the various tasks of
an ICT project life cycle.
The percentage contribution of identified project failure
criteria under each respective category as derived from [34] is
depicted in Figure 1. This study resulted in 44 identified issues
being predominantly related to tasks within the Project
Planning and Direction remit. Failure criteria arising due to
lack of appropriate Project Management and Execution
amounted to an additional 37. Furthermore, User Management
was responsible for the other 31 criteria that hindered project
success.
Figure 1. Ratio of aggregated project failure characteristics within the three
identified fundamental pillars [34]
The derived results imminently portray the fact that the
majority of project failures are attributed towards issues in
appropriate Project Planning and Direction – 39.28%. Despite
the researched advancement within Methodologies for Project
Management and Execution Strategies, 33.04% of recognized
issues that compromised project success, are endorsed within
this classification. A further 27.68% relates to lack in properly
managing project stakeholders a task that is performed in User
Management.
IV. MITIGATING ICT FAILURES
The rate of ICT project failures is known to far exceed that
of success [20] and this is usually due to the conflicting
requirement for project teams to simultaneously focus on a
variety of attributes and criteria to ensure project success [33].
Thus, the performed study provides a number of valuable
recommendations extracted from the core triggers of project
failures in each of the fundamental identified project pillars.
Together, these will complement the adopted project
management methodology to enhance project success
assurance, whilst assisting management in ensuring that the
recommendations are implemented in a number of manageable
objectives and tasks.
A. Project Planning and Direction
Project Planning is a core task within any project
management methodology projecting a roadmap to ensure
alignment of project deliverables with the business strategic
objectives [35]. Often, it transpires that due to tight delivery
schedules project planning will be one of the tasks where time
savings will be done and therefore high level plans are
prepared without assessment of the necessary detail.
Attention should also be given to the project scope, which
must be concise, clear and unambiguous and endorsed by the
project sponsor/champion whilst communicated to all project
stakeholders. This must be accompanied with an exhaustive
detailed set of requirements derived from the feedback
acquired through the active and continuous collaboration from
all the relevant stakeholders. Moreover, it should clearly
include a comprehensive set of requirements and serve as a
core resource for further project planning and management
leading in the establishment of a comprehensive ICT project
plan.
The derived ICT project plan should furthermore include
much more than the traditional Gantt chart, and ensure that the
assumptions taken when formulating such a plan are well
highlighted while providing a description of the dependencies,
project cost, agreed measures of success, required
skills/resources/expertise, project quality procedures, change
management and applicable communication strategies. All
these must be given due importance because they affect the
stability of the ICT plan [36]. A well-developed ICT project
plan should improve efficiency, increase understanding, and
consequently aid to reduce uncertainty for all stakeholders.
This is commonly achieved by minimizing the use of
buzzwords, abbreviations and technical jargon within the
document. Furthermore, the project plan must be split up into a
number of manageable tasks with a Work Breakdown Structure
(WBS) to ensure the delivery of milestones result well within
the approved framework. The planning of each milestone
should be performed with a strategic checkpoint scheme to
enable the monitoring of progress at key instances throughout
the project duration. For each task the relevant resource
requirements including timeframes, activities, assigned
responsibilities and deliverables must be established and
communicated to all relevant stakeholders.
The project plan must acknowledge that the ICT project
will be subject to a number of factors affecting its course
alignment. These project risks can be mitigated by establishing
various contingency strategies at both technical and operational
levels within a risk assessment framework. This should be
further reflected by allocating an appropriate budget and
timeframe overheads within the project plan. Together, these
account for issues which would not be completely or possibly
identified during the planning stage, but will invariable arise
due to the dynamic nature of the operational environment.
B. Project Management and Execution
Despite that the planning phase is an integral part of any
project methodology, project management is considered as a
fundamental discipline and process which includes a set of
tools to assist and facilitate the implementation, sustainment,
monitoring and assessment a number of activities that are
targeted to achieve established goals and vision [37]. This
technique is recognized as the concrete stage which optimizes
the right balance of processes, people and technology to
achieve the expected outcomes and objectives.
The careful selection and adaptation of the most suitable
project management methodology by all stakeholders is of
utmost importance within an ICT project, as this will assist the
project manager in steering, controlling and managing the
project in the right direction. Moreover, such a technique will
aid project governance by establishing a set of policies,
standards and procedures that ensure quality consistency
during project execution whilst reducing conflicts and
misinterpretation.
The ability to adopt ‘customer centric’ techniques, which
provide the key facility to embrace project changes throughout
the project duration, are evermore proving indispensable for the
achievement of success throughout current evolution of ICT
projects. In contrast to traditional project management
techniques which envisaged change as a disruption to the
predefined project plan [38], modern methodologies recognize
that change is inevitable and should be embraced and handled
within a strict and structured framework to eventually result in
added value to the delivered product.
This adaptable approach is also being reflected in software
development methodologies which promote flexibility within
their processes and focus on frequent, iterative and incremental
results. Such agile approaches are providing positive results in
development projects with studies in 2011 indicating a 28%
registered increase in successful projects when compared to
highly rigid development techniques [39].
The successful execution of a project management
discipline features the continuous active involvement of
numerous stakeholders within pre-defined roles and
responsibilities which are clearly communicated across the
project team including the respective reporting structure and
dependencies. The appropriate assignment of such roles is
frequently iterated in prominent methodologies such as
PRINCE2 [40], nevertheless it is imperative that apart from
defining roles, the establishment of required skills and criteria
to fulfil each role are well understood. This will in turn assist in
ensuring that the right person to fit such role is selected and not
contrarily. Moreover, individual roles must integrate within a
team work approach during project execution. Apart from
facilitating stakeholder communication, this will ascertain that
participation and commitment will create the right synergies
for the exchange and sharing of ideas and knowledge required
to achieve the project objectives.
A common issue regularly leading to project failure lies in
the appropriate control of project changes due to ever-changing
environmental factors [41]. This can be mitigated by having a
defined Change Control System, that while analysing the
impact on the current project plan, provides the project team
with an ability to raise and properly evaluate changes prior to
acceptance. Approval of requests should ensure a thorough
evaluation by an interdisciplinary board within a pre-defined
process. The latter must reduce bureaucracy and be time
effective whilst instigating the need for keeping the project
deliverables in line with business strategy and direction.
Furthermore, the board should ensure that change in
requirements will not lead to problematic scope creeps [42],
which would affect cost, resources, quality, as well as
increasing uncertainty and lengthening project delivery.
An inherent key success criterion in project delivery is the
ability for a project to reap the intended benefits. It frequently
transpired however that the project closure phase is usually
overlooked and the project transition - from production into
operational phase, occurs without establishing the relevant post
project support level agreements (SLAs). Apart from
monitoring and managing the system performance, security,
resource utilization, backup/restoration strategies and system
continuity, this should also entail a comprehensive end-user
training to ensure effective use of the delivered product.
Finally, acting as a post mortem exercise, project
management should enrol all stakeholders to formulate “a
lessons learned report” with the ability to identify and analyse
project execution whilst establishing a list of recommendations
to assist future projects to be undertaken by the firm.
C. User Management
The underlying foundation of any ICT project, directly
affecting the level of achieved success is dependent on the
commitment and sponsorship of project stakeholders. Effective
user management must ensure that this remains present
throughout the entire project life cycle irrespective of any
change occurring either at the executive and operational levels.
This particular source of failure is highly common within the
public sector where projects are frequently subject to
substantial alternation in scope, direction and commitment due
to political changes.
Throughout project execution the management of
stakeholder conflicts must be properly performed to ensure a
smooth delivery [12]. Understanding and managing conflicts is
usually a complex process since these arise due to various
factors such as personality issues, diverging priorities, trade-off
capacity, misunderstandings, resource commitments and
responsibilities. It was commonly noted that mismanaged
conflicts frequently lead to excessive levels of anxiety, stress
and frustration, thus stressing the importance of adopting
adequate mechanisms where issues can be escalated and
resolved accordingly with the assistance of a Project Conflicts
Resolution Board (PCRB). This concept should be further
supported with the promotion of a positive attitude with
consistent open and trustful communication throughout the
project structures.
Project Managers should also ascertain that the
maintenance and promotion of a positive change culture is
present within an ICT project as this paves the way in ensuring
project results and excellence. This highly sensitive area within
team dynamics can be assisted by providing adequate training
and knowledge to ensure that dependents are knowledgeable
about the process in which suggestions are performed and the
manner in which these are handled. Moreover, a project
manager must ensure that the appropriate user management
skills are utilized to induce such change. This also entails the
careful assessment and selection of the delivery methodology
as well as the venue and timing in which communication is
achieved. Furthermore, a successful change demands that the
affected stakeholders are consistently informed about the
manner in which they shall be affected and any uncertainties
from their end are reassured. This will be supported by an
updated ICT project plan which will include changes in budget,
timeframes and quality, if any.
An effective manner in which user management can assist
the facilitation of project execution is to ensure that resources
engaged internally or externally outsourced, are knowledgeable
in the project delivery domain. This will reduce resource
efforts in acquiring domain familiarization and knowledge.
Furthermore it will aid the project team to understand better the
project dynamics and enhance decision making with the
possibility of employing useful ideas.
User Management should also assist in providing the right
resources to identify capture and share knowledge within the
project team. The implementation of an appropriate knowledge
management strategy will not only assist in producing better
quality requirements, but facilitate communication in team
collaboration, promote innovation, and assist in producing
more accurate estimates, timeframes and the appropriate
resource allocation. Furthermore the promotion of an
intellectual collaborative strategy will assist the project team in
paving the way for smoother project execution by increasing
confidence in achieving the project objectives and
subsequently enhance the chances of ensuring overall project
success.
V. CONCLUSION
Throughout the years the ICT industry has been doomed by
an exceptionally high percentage of ICT project failures.
Unfortunately, despite the consistent rate of technological
progression, advancements in project management
frameworks, a considerable number of well researched studies
demonstrate that, ICT projects are still failing at an alarming
rate. Such situation is of extreme concern to business owners,
decision makers and project managers which are commonly
faced with cost overruns, project delays, unsatisfied clients,
unreached objectives and even abandoned projects as
consequences of such failures.
This paper presented a number of recommendations that
can assist project management in mitigating and pre-empting
such project failure. The methodology adopted derived from
the holistic research of thirteen studies authored/commissioned
by well-established entities or organisations eliciting the
various criteria leading to project failure. Such criteria were
structured under three fundamental effecting categories where
this assisted the complexity reduction related to the multitude
of intricate issues currently faced by project management when
dealing with the multi-faceted problem of ICT project success.
The paper rationally illustrates that ICT project success is
not something impossible to achieve, but can be realised if the
proper approach to preparation, planning, management and
execution is undertaken. By considering and adopting the
proposals highlighted within this study together with the
established project management methodology undertaken,
management will be assisted in allocating the adequate and
proper resources effectively to attain the required objectives.
It is finally undeniable that in a fast-paced developing
world, heavily dependent on ICT, the demand for more
complex and reliant ICT-related projects will continue to
augment in the future. It is for such a reason that ICT
excellence, effective project governance and successful project
actualisation should not just be desirable but also attainable.
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University
... The inability of organisations to deliver consistent, successful project outcomes has been an ongoing theme for many years within academic study and practitioner analysis. Studies have synthesised the key facets of Information Systems (IS) project performance, success and failure, and organisational change initiatives ( Dwivedi et al. 2013;Hughes et al. 2015;Nudurupati, Tebboune, and Hardman 2015), highlighting many of the under- lying contributory factors and root causes (Fenech and Raffaele 2013). Unfortunately, projects seem to grossly overspend, collapse without realising benefits ( Barker and Frolick 2003;Conboy 2010;Standish Group 2013), are abandoned mid-way through the lifecycle, or are delivered with such low levels of adoption that the project business case becomes fundamentally redundant ( Hughes et al. 2015;Pan, Hackney, and Pan 2008). ...
... The body of research to date has generally tended to focus on a number of key themes: (i) project failure in the context of listing the key reasons for failure via actual case studies, (Brown and Jones 1998;Gauld 2007;McDermott, Fitzgerald, and Buchanan 2013;Mitev 1996;Newell, Carole, and Huang 2004), (ii) studies highlighting many of the top factors that can contribute to failure based on a broader review of the literature ( Dwivedi et al. 2013;Ewusi-Mensah 2003;Fenech and Raffaele 2013;Nelson 2007), (iii) specific focus on individual factors as part of a contributory narrative: ( Bakker et al. 2013;Cinite, Duxbury, and Higgins 2009) (iv) studies that seek to explain and categorise success and failure using models or frameworks to aid understanding of the constitu- ents of project outcomes (Flowers 1997;Lyytinen and Hirschheim 1987;Sauer 1993). The perspectives of success and failure out- lined in Fincham (2002) highlight the significant effort expended in the literature in the normative and rational contexts in an effort to prevent and predict failure. ...
... The literature has identified many of the factors associated with IS project failure highlighting the root causes that have contrib- uted to poor project outcomes ( Dwivedi et al. 2013;Fenech and Raffaele 2013;Gauld 2007;Hughes et al. 2015; Standish Group 2013). However, although many studies have provided exten- sive analysis of individual FFs and have articulated their individ- ual contribution to failure ( Bakker et al. 2013;Cinite, Duxbury, and Higgins 2009;Nawi, Rahman, and Ibrahim 2011), few have addressed the need for a deeper understanding of the domi- nating interrelationships between FFs, impacting senior man- agement's ability to address project outcome related factors, contextualised for each stage in the lifecycle. ...
Article
The social, political and cultural issues faced by organisations and their senior management team in the delivery and adoption of strategic projects, is highly complex and problematic. Despite a mature body of literature, increasing levels of practitioner certification, application of standards and numerous government initiatives, improvements in success have been minimal. In this study, we analyse the key underlying factors surrounding the failure of Information Systems (IS) projects and explore the merits of articulating a narrative that focuses on senior management embracing practical pessimism. Specifically, we develop a hypothesis supported by empirical study that leverages expert’s views on the dominance and interrelationships between failure factors within PRINCE2® project stages using an Interpretive Ranking Process. Our findings establish how the concept of dominance between individual failure factors can necessitate senior management to make key informed and timely decisions that could potentially influence project outcomes based on an empirical derived, interpretive predictive framework.
... Use failure occurs when the system is not used due to user resistance arising from the staff's lack of training and ability, the complexity of the new system, or recalcitrance (Goldfinch 2007). In use failure, the IT system does not meet the users' expectations (Ewusi-Mensah 2003), which arise from the IT properties, the users' state, and the context in which the IT is being used (Roto et al. 2011). ...
... In New Zealand, 62% of IT projects do not succeed (Goldfinch 2007); in the United Kingdom, 84% of public sector projects resulted in failure of some sort (The Royal Academy of Engineering and the British Computer Society 2004). Similar results have been reported across the globe from other developed countries, such as Canada, the United States, Australia, and Netherlands, among others (Fenech and De Raffaele 2013;Pelizza and Hoppe 2018). Studies from developing countries, such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and South-Africa, also report failures in IT projects (Gunawong and Gao 2017;Rajapakse et al. 2012;Nawi et al. 2011;Khan et al. 2015;Masiero 2016). ...
Chapter
The public sector has a long history of failed information technology (IT) projects. Previous studies on this topic have reported a variety of reasons for these failures. The lack of a common theoretical base partly explains why researchers have investigated different reasons for these failures while not connecting their results to a broader theoretical framework. The present study aims to identify the reasons for IT project failures in government and create a holistic theoretical base for the field for use in future projects. This study seeks to answer the following research questions: Why do IT projects fail in the public sector? How can this phenomenon be theorized? Methodologically, the study used a systematic literature review and meta-synthesis analysis. The complications are described from project task and management-based perspectives and from the point of view of environmental factors, such as external stakeholders. The analysis identifies which project and management tasks fail in IT projects, what external stakeholders contribute to this failure, and how this failure relates to unsuccessful IT projects. Mapping out these tasks will enable practitioners and researchers to identify the problems they need to address in order to avoid unsuccessful project implementation. The identified problems also offer a starting point from which scholars and public servants can begin to look for solutions to these problems. The generated theoretical framework offers researchers a common point of reference and vocabulary. This could make the discussions of research results more connected, coherent, comprehensive, and meaningful.
... 3) Community Ownership of the Project: One of the key elements in developing a humanitarian project is to involve the key stakeholders, i.e. the community members, in the design and execution of the initiative to ensure the buy-in and "ownership" of the project. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) projects that have been implemented by around 14,000 agencies worldwide have experienced a failure rate of 70% [21]. Although this metric applies to ICTs, the results can be applied to all technology related projects, particularly those working in developing countries. ...
... Although this metric applies to ICTs, the results can be applied to all technology related projects, particularly those working in developing countries. According to the authors [21], the main causes for the high failure rate are rooted in three categories: project planning, project management and execution, and user management. ...
Conference Paper
Roughly 1 billion people in the world live in energydeprived environments, mainly in rural or island communities often in developing countries. Technical, economical and geographical constraints are common challenges that communities face around the world for the lack of electrical coverage. This paper describes the rehabilitation of solar home systems and the sustainable development of an island community in the Gulf of Guayaquil in Ecuador. Cerrito de los Morre ˜nos is a community located 28 miles south of Guayaquil with a population of approximately 900 inhabitants. Access to electricity is provided using a 195 kW diesel generator only for 6 hours during the day. Previous projects had implemented solar home systems in the community, but lack of training on the use and maintenance of these systems left them non functional. With the support of the IEEE SIGHT program, a group of students and faculty from Villanova University and ESPOL University visited the community on several occasions to assess the opportunities for energy access using the existing infrastructure. The engagement with the community, as well as capacity building, are at the core of the intervention in order to ensure the sustainable development of the project with the stakeholders in the community. The achievements and lessons learned through the rehabilitation of solar home systems and workshops with the community are reported in this paper.
... Aspects of the IS failure literature have reviewed the key issues of projects failing and have developed new frameworks and models to gain clarity on the root causes and main contributory factors or focused on specific areas of failure (Bronte-Stewart 2009;Davis et al. 1992;Ewusi-Mensah 2003;Goulielmos 2005;Heeks 2002;Keider 1974;Lin and Pan 2011;Nelson 2007;Nixon, Harrington, and Parker 2012;Perkins 2006;Poulymenakou and Holmes 1996;Young 2005). The literature has also attempted to develop a comprehensive taxonomy of IS project failure with studies focusing on the empiricaland case study-based research to gain new perspectives and understanding of the many causes of projects to fail (Al-Ahmad et al. 2009;Dwivedi et al. 2013;Fenech and De Raffaele 2013;Hughes et al. 2015), thereby furthering the debate amongst the academic and practitioner communities. Researchers have developed theoretical propositions supported by frameworks or models to identify the key components of the IS failure process from the risk and diagnostic perspectives (Bronte-Stewart 2009;Davis et al. 1992;Goulielmos 2005;Heeks 2002), retrospective perspective (Nelson 2007) and social nature of IS (Poulymenakou and Holmes 1996). ...
... The widely cited study by Flowers (1997) highlighted a set of factors associated with project failure termed -critical failure factors, but although has context in terms of IS failure prediction and prevention, the study has not provided an empirical analysis of the links between factors. Based on the analysis of over one thousand projects, Fenech and De Raffaele (2013) identified a number of groupings termed -failure pillars comprising of: project planning and direction, project management and execution and user management. Hughes et al. (2015) presented a taxonomy of failure factors grouped by people and project management categories to highlight the specific factors associated with each. ...
Article
The analysis of the root causes of information systems project failure has been the subject of intense scrutiny for some time within industry and the academic community. Researchers have developed various models, notions of failure and categorisations to succinctly classify project failure into a set of key factors for organisations and project managers to focus on in their attempts to avoid failure. This study incorporates a technique titled: interpretive structural modelling as the methodology to formalise the relationships between the selected failure factors. This approach is positioned as a mechanism that can yield greater insights into the relationships between the factors surrounding project failure, thereby developing a better understanding of how these relationships can have a bearing on project outcomes. The findings identify key driving variables that are presented as having significant impact on the other factors within the model. A number of variables are also identified as being heavily dependent on other connected factors highlighting that a failure in one or more of these connected factors is likely to result in a failure in one or more of the dependent factors unless timely steps are taken to address these key issues. This research details a number of practical implications for senior management and project managers as well as the academic community. These considerations form an underlying thread within this study as specific practice-related implications are highlighted and discussed throughout the study.
... the user's availability and bandwidth are always a challenge. To mitigate such risks and challenges, and appropriate PMM is crucial(Fenech & Raffaele, 2013).200% budget overruns. ...
Thesis
The ICTs (information and communication technologies) have enabled the hyperconnected environment that is transforming the socioeconomic landscape globally influencing society and businesses. The sector is unique as it involves both software and non-software-based activities and projects, hence requires a different approach to delivery. This study focusses on the delivery methodologies (DMs) practiced in the ICT sector to investigate three research questions: 1) What are the current widely adopted Delivery Methodologies in the ICT sector and the driving factors behind the choice? 2) What is the impact of delivery-methodologies on an organization and its business? 3) What are the suitable mappings of project types and delivery methodologies, especially for the delivery of modern services like IoT/IoE? The objective of research questions RQ1 and RQ3 are exploratory while the objective of RQ2 was correlational. A mixed-method (quantitative and qualitative) inquiry mode was adopted for this study. The study included in-depth literature research, survey research and qualitative interviews of experts having rich experience and expertise in the ICT sector. The study reveals that the ICT sector extensively uses Agile methods/frameworks (including SAFe), company-specific or Hybrid methodologies along with CI-CT-CD method for solution/software development. PMBOK and PRINCE2 are used for core telecommunication and projects following the waterfall model. For operations and maintenance projects, PMBOK and ITIL are being used while KANBAN/SCRUMBAN is being tried in some projects for future adoption. The major factors behind the adoption of DMs are market-trend, customer preference, project/contract specific requirements. DMs and organizational strategies influence each other. Organizational culture influences DMs in terms of its implementation and work-culture of the projects. Except for SAFe methodology, no significant impact of any DMs on employee satisfaction levels was found in this study. DMs can influence the normal working hours of project teams, but the other two major influencing factors are ‘Time-Zone difference between project teams’ and ‘nature of the project’. On the issue of the impact of DMs on business, CQT (Cost, Quality and Time) defines the objectives of DMs. Along with DMs, the ‘delivery model’ also impacts the business significantly. Predictive methodologies typically, achieve the objective of budget and schedule while projects using adaptive methodologies end-up with high effort variances. Unpaid efforts are moderate for all methodologies. Customer satisfaction for SAFe driven projects is significantly higher in comparison to other methodologies. Regarding RQ3, suitable DMs can be identified by analyzing the characteristics of projects in terms of clarity on the outcome of the project, required TAT, service disruption sensitivity, required attention to detail, 3rd Party dependencies. For advanced technology-based projects like IoT, a mix of Agile methods, AIM and PMBOK/PRINCE2 are suitable DMs.
... RM involves the discovery of events that can be a threat to the success of the software project so that a software development organization can plan risk response actions and build contingency reserves [10]. When analyzing failures in software projects, risks can be closely related to the poor management of requirements [10][11][12]. In this context, the engineering of requirements [13] is concerned with the assessment of clients' expectations, the evaluation and negotiation of a software solution, the validations of software specifications and the management of client needs as they are transformed into software specifications. ...
Article
The discipline of project management has evolved over the years, yet projects still run into trouble, failing entirely, running late, or not delivering expected benefits. Program and portfolio managers need assistance identifying potentially troubled projects while they are being delivered, allowing time to intervene. We report on our investigation of whether project status reports from IT project portfolios can be used to predict projects that may be trending into trouble ahead of time. We found that this initial approach resulted in a high degree of accurate predictions opening new avenues of research in predicting project progress and health.
Purpose IS project failure has been a recurring problem for decades. This study examines the key factors that influence project failure and an analysis of the major areas that can have a significant impact on success. The study explores some of the key aspects that have an impact on project management performance from the practitioner perspective and discusses the problems faced by organizations in the closer integration of change and project management. Design/methodology/approach This study critically reviews the IS failure literature developing a synthesized view of the key issues and common reasons for projects to fail. The approach taken in this study is one that focuses on a number of key questions that pull together the relevant themes in this genre of research whilst highlighting many of the implications for practitioners and organizations alike. Findings Key questions remain on the underlying causes of instances of poor project management as an IS failure factor. The literature has omitted to develop a deeper analysis of the associations between failure factors and the potential causal relationships between these factors. The realization of project benefits relies on the success of both change and project management yet the formal integration of these two disciplines is constrained by separate standards bodies and an immature body of research. Research limitations/implications This study is limited by its theoretical nature lacking an empirical element to provide a deeper analysis of IS failure factors and their interrelationships. This specific area is a recommendation for future research, where causal relationships between failure factors could be developed via a mathematic based method such as Interpretive Structural Modeling (ISM). Practical implications With failure rates of IS projects still unacceptably high after decades of attempts to significantly change outcomes, a deeper analysis of this topic is required. The research gaps and recommendations for practitioners highlighted in this study have the potential to provide valuable contributions to this topic of research. Originality/value The intent of this study is to present a new perspective of this genre of IS research that develops the main arguments and gaps in the literature from the practitioner viewpoint.
Article
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If a project is to be successfully completed, both planning and execution must be properly implemented. Poor planning will not allow appropriate execution and control processes or achievement of the project's targets. The objective of the study reported in this paper is to evaluate the impact of the project manager on the quality of project planning processes within the nine knowledge areas defined by A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and to determine ways of increasing the effectiveness of the manager's intervention. Participants in the study evaluated their use of the 21 processes that relate to planning, out of the 39 processes required for proper project management. The results of the study reveal risk management and communications as the processes with the lowest planning quality. Poor quality in these areas results when project managers lack the formal tools and techniques for dealing with communications and the functional managers are not equipped with the tools and techniques that will allow them to effectively contribute to the risk management process. Improving quality planning processes requires the development of new tools in areas such as communications, as well as organizational training programs designed for the functional managers.
Article
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Many projects fail, especially IT projects. The only way that companies can get better at performing projects is by learning from projects they have carried out. But traditional practice of holding a lessons-learned session during or following a project may not allow organizations to examine the deep and "messy" reasons why projects fail, particularly with complex projects. Complex projects can best be understood by using modeling, such as cognitive mapping. Cognitive mapping aids identification of causal chains and where these close in on themselves to form positive feedback loops, which helps to understand not only what went wrong, but also the reasons. Cognitive mapping is used to understand the impacts of management decisions on a project, both intended and unintentional. This approach is used here to examine a large software development project carried out by an insu ranee company which overran its original plan by several years. Some suggestions are made both for using such methods and lessons to be learned for future projects. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
Article
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Out-of-control information technology (IT) projects have ended the careers of top managers, such as EADS CEO Noël Forgeard and Levi Strauss’ CIO David Bergen. Moreover, IT projects have brought down whole companies, like Kmart in the US and Auto Windscreen in the UK. Software and other IT is now such an integral part of most business processes and products that CEOs must know their IT risks, which are typically substantial – and overlooked. The analysis of a sample of 1,471 IT projects showed that the average cost overrun was 27% — but that figure masks a far more alarming “fat tail” risk. Fully one in six of the projects in the sample was a Black Swan, with a cost overrun of 200%, on average, and a schedule overrun of almost 70%. This highlights the true pitfall of IT change initiatives: It’s not that they’re particularly prone to high cost overruns on average – it is that there are a disproportionate number of Black Swans. By focusing on averages instead of the more damaging outliers, most managers and consultants have been missing the real risk in doing IT. In conclusion, the article outlines ideas as to what can be done to avoid Black Swans.
Article
Information system (IS) project failures are so common as to be almost expected by planners. There is an expanding literature on IS project failures including both theory and case studies. This literature, however, is largely derived from private sector IS failures, despite the fact that the likelihood of failure appears higher in the public sector. This article seeks to fill the public sector case study void. It details the failure and abandonment of a large New Zealand public hospital IS development. The case corroborates findings from the private sector literature, namely that ill-planned and managed, large and multifaceted projects are more likely to fail and that contextual issues are highly influential. It also shows how much more complex project commissioning and development is in situations of public governance where political and organizational elements come to the fore. Finally, the article offers lessons for public sector IS planners.
Article
“Jim Highsmith is one of a few modern writers who are helping us understand the new nature of work in the knowledge economy.”-Rob Austin, Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School“This is the project management book we've all been waiting for-the book that effectively combines Agile methods and rigorous project management. Not only does this book help us make sense of project management in this current world of iterative, incremental Agile methods, but it's an all-around good read!”-Lynne Ellen, Sr. VP & CIO, DTE Energy“Finally a book that reconciles the passion of the Agile Software movement with the needed disciplines of project management. Jim's book has provided a service to all of us.”-Neville R(oy) Singham, CEO, ThoughtWorks, Inc.“The world of product development is becoming more dynamic and uncertain. Many managers cope by reinforcing processes, adding documentation, or further honing costs. This isn't working. Highsmith brilliantly guides us into an alternative that fits the times.”-Preston G. Smith, principal, New Product Dynamics/coauthor, Developing Products in Half the TimeNow, one of the field's leading experts brings together all the knowledge and resources you need to use APM in your next project. Jim Highsmith shows why APM should be in every manager's toolkit, thoroughly addressing the questions project managers raise about Agile approaches. He systematically introduces the five-phase APM framework, then presents specific, proven tools for every project participant. Coverage includes: Six principles of Agile Project Management How to capitalize on emerging new product development technologies Putting customers at the center of your project, where they belong Creating adaptive teams that respond quickly to changes in your project's “ecosystem” Which projects will benefit from APM-and which won't APM's five phases: Envision, Speculate, Explore, Adapt, Close APM practices, including the Product Vision Box and Project Data Sheet Leveraging your PMI skills in Agile environments Scaling APM to larger projects and teams For every project manager, team leader, and team member
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This paper provides some thoughts about success criteria for IS–IT project management. Cost, time and quality (The Iron Triangle), over the last 50 years have become inextricably linked with measuring the success of project management. This is perhaps not surprising, since over the same period those criteria are usually included in the description of project management. Time and costs are at best, only guesses, calculated at a time when least is known about the project. Quality is a phenomenon, it is an emergent property of peoples different attitudes and beliefs, which often change over the development life-cycle of a project. Why has project management been so reluctant to adopt other criteria in addition to the Iron Triangle, such as stakeholder benefits against which projects can be assessed? This paper proposes a new framework to consider success criteria, The Square Route.
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Big projects fail at an astonishing rate--more than half the time, by some estimates. It's not hard to understand why. Complicated long-term projects are customarily developed by a series of teams working along parallel tracks. If managers fail to anticipate everything that might fall through the cracks, those tracks will not converge successfully at the end to reach the goal. Take a companywide CRM project. Traditionally, one team might analyze customers, another select the software, a third develop training programs, and so forth. When the project's finally complete, though, it may turn out that the salespeople won't enter in the requisite data because they don't understand why they need to. This very problem has, in fact, derailed many CRM programs at major organizations. There is a way to uncover unanticipated problems while the project is still in development. The key is to inject into the overall plan a series of miniprojects, or "rapid-results initiatives," which each have as their goal a miniature version of the overall goal. In the CRM project, a single team might be charged with increasing the revenues of one sales group in one region by 25% within four months. To reach that goal, team members would have to draw on the work of all the parallel teams. But in just four months, they would discover the salespeople's resistance and probably other unforeseen issues, such as, perhaps, the need to divvy up commissions for joint-selling efforts. The World Bank has used rapid-results initiatives to great effect to keep a sweeping 16-year project on track and deliver visible results years ahead of schedule. In taking an in-depth look at this project, and others, the authors show why this approach is so effective and how the initiatives are managed in conjunction with more traditional project activities.