Why Information Technology Projects Fail
by Jeffrey Sward

Information technology projects inevitably fail because of human factors, such as lack of user involvement, lack of clear requirements, lack of project management, or inadequate testing, etc. Information technology projects rarely fail because the technology could not be made to work. Developers almost always make the technology work. Periodically someone does a study about "Why Information Technology Projects Fail" and/or "Why Software Development Projects Fail." The answer is always the same. Here are some notable examples, each listed in order with the most likely causes first.

Chaos Report 1995
  • Incomplete requirements
  • Lack of user involvement
  • Lack of resources
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Changing requirements
  • Lack of planning
  • No longer need it
  • Lack of IT management
  • Technology illiteracy
  • The technology could not be made to work
Taimour 2005
  • Poor planning
  • Unclear goals and objectives
  • Objectives changing during the project
  • Unrealistic time or resource estimates
  • Lack of executive support and user involvement
  • Failure to communicate and act as a team
  • Inappropriate skills
PMO Executive Council 2009
  • Project Management (54%)
  • Business (21%)
  • People (14%)
  • Method (8%)
  • Technical (3%)
Isfahni 2010
  • Failure to align with constituents
  • Lack of proactive risk management
  • Poor performance measurement
  • Loose definition of project scope and management
  • Insufficient project communication
  • Missing methodology
  • Expectation of failure
  • Years of industry failures
  • Tools and automation
Gulla 2011
  • Poor project planning and direction
  • Insufficient communication
  • Lack of change, risk, financial, and performance management
  • Failure to align with constituents and stakeholders
  • Ineffective involvement of executive management
  • Lack of skilled team members in the areas of soft skills, ability to adapt, and experience
  • Poor or missing methodology and tools
Rosenfeld (N.D.)
  • Poor user input
  • Stakeholder conflicts
  • Vague requirements
  • Poor cost and schedule estimation
  • Skills that do not match the job
  • Hidden costs
  • Failure to plan
  • Communications breakdowns
  • Poor architecture
  • Late failure warning signals
Catalogue of Catastrophes (N.D.)
  • The underestimation of complexity, cost and/or schedule
  • Scope volatility and changing requirements
  • Lack of communications
  • Failure to engage stakeholders
  • Failure to address culture change issues
  • Lack of oversight / poor project management
  • Poor quality implementations
  • Lack of risk management
  • Failure to address performance requirements
  • Insufficient user training

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