This Guest paper was submitted for publication and is Copyright M. Klein (2005).
Published here June 2005.

Introduction | Shortage of IT Experts? | There's More
Reasons for Failure | Getting Things Done | Balancing Art with Science

Reasons for Failure

An analysis of project management methods and the skills required for excellence brings to light several reasons for outstanding IT failures. At the top of this list is a shortfall of leadership skills. "Heading the list: a failure to set clear objectives, a lack of senior management support and taking on projects that were technically overambitious" contends Malcolm Wheatley. Project management trainer Damian Artt, partner, Aspen Consulting, Inc., in his article It's Not About Project Management ... It's About Project Leadership, vividly illustrates this point. He says:

"Think about every time you have been involved in a post mortem review on a failed project. Can you recollect one instance when the reason for the project failure was due to the Gantt chart program, or the resource forecasting tool? I can't. I do remember failed projects being due to poor resource selection, over commitment at the offset, lack of team inspiration, poor expectation management, horrible communications, letting problems fester. All of these are of course leadership issues."[13]

As CEO of ANDA Consulting in Colchester, VT, Sue Young makes it her business to know why IT projects fail, and how to prevent it. Rather than blame breakdowns on technical problems, when asked why projects fail, she charges that:

"Business and technical problems boil down to people problems. Calling something a technical problem is a convenient label to say 'It's not something I can handle.' If the server goes down, 'it's a technical problem.' Well, you either fix it or get someone to handle it. It's a people problem. People solve problems. People create problems. 'It was a technical problem because the software was buggy.' Well, it was people who created buggy software or made the decision to buy the software. It's the extent to which we take responsibility for solving problems that gets them solved. The myth of IT is that it's about computers and technology. It's not - IT is about people."[14]
There's More  There's More

13. Artt, Damian, It's Not About Project Management... It's About Project Leadership, Aspen Consulting, Inc. (accessed 7/18/04)
14. Betts, Mitch, Why IT Projects Fail, Computerworld August 2003 (accessed 7/16/04)
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