When Good Projects Go Bad

Imagine this scenario…..You announce a major IT transformation project, you develop a regular communication process to stakeholders to keep them informed of progress and up coming benefits. A couple of months before launch you appear to be tracking well, and communicating same,…….then the project fails and your organisation has to take a multi-million dollar provision for the failure. This is not imagined scenario for some organisations, large or small.

Most big projects run into problems at some point. It is even suggested that the failure rate is over 50%, but why ? We see many articles that suggest the 5, 7 or 10 things you need to do to ensure success……if only it was that simple.

If we consider the inherent complexity of the risks associated with major project delivery it is not too surprising that only a small number of projects are delivered to the original time, cost, and quality requirements. It is 2ISPC's experience that many organisation's do not factor in the risk management issues and mitigants early on.

Project design and implementation requires recognition of the influence multiple stakeholders and processes have on the outcome. A broad based view of project leadership and stakeholder management is required, starting right at the beginning with vendor selection, due diligence and ensuring balanced organisational protections, but this is only part of the process.

Despite attempts to make project delivery more rigorous, a considerable proportion of delivery effort results in systems that fail in testing or do not meet the client expectations, and are subsequently modified or cancelled. This can be attributed to failures in governance processes, poorly defined specification, inadequate testing regimes, or inappropriately defined risk management processes that are required to bring the project to successful completion.

One of the major weaknesses is that many believe running a major project can be “bolted” on to ‘business as usual’.

Your internal resources, however competent, might not have the capacity, experience or skills to take on a big one-off project and the business owner will need the appropriate support to get the project over the line. The business owner should know the business well enough to understand its requirements but an external support team, separate to the vendor, can bring a fresh perspective, outside expertise and a strong commercial incentive to get the project past the finish line.

The success rate of projects suggests that a key challenge for organisations is how to mitigate the risk of failure. There is no “one size fits all” solution for this problem and for assistance in avoiding adverse project outcomes and to ensure your institution is well prepared
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