7 Factors Responsible for the Failure of IT Projects

7 Factors Responsible for the Failure of IT Projects

Even after establishing strategic alignment between IT and business leaders, many enterprises still fail when it comes to their technical and transformational initiatives. Hence, it is about time that they are aware about the factors that are responsible for the failure of IT projects.

Surviving in today’s competitive marketplace has become extremely difficult as enterprises try to meet the constantly changing demands of their customers. In fact, research conducted by Boston Consulting Group in 2020, found that 70 % of digital transformation initiatives fail to meet their business goals. The 2020 Mainframe Modernization Report also found that 74% of the enterprises that started their legacy system modernization projects failed to complete them.

Even though only a few tech initiatives go completely to waste, CIOs and their counterparts say that only a small number of IT transformation projects deliver their anticipated value. Often, some of the projects don’t generate enough expected returns.

Alberto Giorgi, Director of Engineering at Tray.io

As Alberto Giorgi, Director of Engineering at Tray.io puts it, “It has been said that more than 50% of businesses have experienced IT project failures.

He further adds, “Technical teams have been discussing the reasons for quite some time, including the usual suspects of inaccurate project scoping for requirements, changing priorities, lack of resources, lack of sponsorship from executive champions (both during implementation as well as adoption post-implementation), lack of resources, poor project management, and fundamental misalignment between the scoping and execution of project versus the business goals that prompted the project in the first place.”


Also Read: Juggling Multiple IT Projects Successfully

Alberto Giorgi states that there are multiple interrelated factors that contribute to IT projects falling short of their business objectives. Below are some of the common issues.

No Alignment Across the Organization

Most CIOs now understand that the IT strategy and business strategy must align with each other. However, even when those strategies are in sync, executive leaders struggle to drive a sense of alignment throughout the organization.

Praniti Lakhwara
Praniti Lakhwara, Chief Information Officer, Conga

“While this one may seem obvious to some, it is something that many organizations struggle with,” says Praniti Lakhwara, Chief Information Officer, Conga, “It is crucial that C-suite priorities are understood and aligned. It is not about the CIO, CEO, or CMO — it is about the priorities for the company and the outcomes that you are looking for. If a company does not have this alignment, it becomes a siloed implementation with one business owner leading and it is doomed to fail.”

Not Really Being Agile

IT needs some room to be flexible enough to make projects work depending on changing markets. Hence, it is critical that organizations be flexible about their projects. Organizations must be open to truly agile frameworks. While many enterprises claim they have integrated agile methodologies in their business, they have only adopted the concept, they haven’t embraced the execution. Therefore, to avoid Failure of IT Projects, they must embrace its execution stage as well.

“To avoid project failures, from a DevOps perspective, IT teams should, if they aren’t already, consider taking an Agile approach to initially scoping, executing, and evaluating/re-evaluating their projects,” says Alberto Giorgi. He further adds, “Agile software development emphasizes planning both early and often across self-organized squads (often using the Scrum framework) to deliver early prototypes that teams improve iteratively on an ongoing basis. Due to its lightweight, adaptive approach, Agile implicitly accounts for the changes in scope, champions, and resources allocated to projects that so commonly derail them.”

Siloed Implementation of a System Versus An Outcome

While implementing and integrating a feature, enterprises must look at its overall impact on the business. They should consider the elements that may lead to a negative impact on products or tools implementation. “Business units are constantly trying to address an area of efficiency within their own unit without understanding the upstream and downstream impacts on the company overall. There is no buy-in to address end-to-end processes which create solutions to happen in phases rather than as a whole. IT should be looking at the process/outcome first, versus being so heavily focused on a singular tool,” adds Praniti Lakhwara.

Also Read: DevOps projects: Ensuring success as a CIO


Sean Knapp
Sean Knapp, CEO, Ascend.io

Scalability has always been a challenge for enterprises. However, today’s marketplace poses an even greater challenge for IT teams when they scale their projects at an unprecedented pace without having adequate resources at their disposal. According to Sean Knapp, CEO, Ascend.io, “The inability to scale is one, unfortunately, very common reason why IT projects fail. While historically, the greatest challenge when it came to IT projects was the scalability of systems, technology has advanced so dramatically in recent years that the scalability of IT systems is now almost limitless. The scale challenge we are currently facing is actually that of dependency and complexities.”

Hence, it is essential that IT leaders develop frameworks that will not only enable them to address the current scalability challenges but also prepare them for future ones.

“To address today’s scale challenges and prevent projects from failing, IT leaders should consider the advantages of self-service solutions. In a nutshell, self-service tooling is all about getting more people to do more things with technology in a way that is faster and more efficient for the business. However, it’s crucial that IT teams balance this enablement with security and stability, and the old saying of ‘trust but verify’ can be accomplished with ‘democratize and automate,” adds Sean Knapp.

 IT Skills and Leadership

In today’s environment, IT leaders must collaborate with the businesses teams that solely focus on business growth and revenue. They should frequently arrange meetings for understanding the impact of all the business elements involved. It will help them understand the businesses priorities and also develop strategies for taking ownership of end-to-end processes.

As per Praniti Lakhwara, “One of the standout reasons of Failure of IT Projects is because there are just not enough people that have techno-functional skills.” She further continues, “Because of this, the ball ends up getting passed back and forth between business teams and IT teams, and the IT team becomes hyper-focused on delivering exactly what the business needs. If an IT team has the right functional skills within the team, they can help and take ownership of the end-to-end process. Business process ownership across the teams is a crucial aspect of IT.”

No Investment In Automation

With today’s enterprise infrastructure evolving at an accelerated pace, IT teams often end up doing things that are manual and repetitive. Due to this, they often have to shift from productive tasks to keep the business running. Hence, IT leaders should make it a point to continuously invest in innovative solutions.

Tina headshot
Tina Huang, founder and CTO, Transposit

“IT leaders should increase investments in automation to help relieve this burden and ensure teams can deliver value rapidly,” says Tina Huang, founder and CTO, Transposit, “Automation is a journey — begin by codifying processes through runbooks. From there, teams can more easily identify repetitive, predictable tasks that can be automated. Automating chunks of manual work will free up IT Ops teams to focus on innovation and ensuring better process controls. This kind of automation saves time and increases the success rate of IT projects, while improving the quality of life for IT teams.”

Also Read: Failed Digital Transformation Projects Costs Businesses Big

Biting off more than they can chew

To meet the dynamic demand of customers, IT teams often end-up taking on projects that they are not prepared to handle. This not only delays the delivery of projects but also ends up affecting the team’s productivity.

“Teams are very often over-optimistic in terms of trying to enable the scope that they are trying to achieve. Project teams, too commonly, do not understand the crawl, walk, run methodology. They need to be realistic on what it takes to tweak, manage, and adapt processes, and then come back and add more,” concludes Praniti Lakhwara.

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Vishal Muktewar is a Senior Correspondent at On Dot Media. He reports news that focuses on the latest trends and innovations happening in the B2B industry. An IT engineer by profession, Vishal has worked at Insights Success before joining Ondot. His love for stories has driven him to take up a career in enterprise journalism. He effectively uses his knowledge of technology and flair for writing, for crafting features, articles and interactions for technology enterprise media platforms.