Michael Krigsman informs us about the study done by Computer Associates to determine causes of IT project failures. Michael presents some slides from the yet to be published study. Interesting, but the view seems to be only from the corporate world, where the discussions start and end with budget. I think root causes of a IT project failure can always be found in one of the following questions:
- What are we doing?
- Why are we doing it?
- How are we doing it?
Not only are these questions significant, but even their order carries a lot of value. Most of the times I have witnessed a made-up or artificial answer here which leads to failure of a project. What do these questions do? They help us identify the problem, and for that you have to interact with possible users. Most of the times the problem and solutions exist in the same space, these questions helps isolate the problem and hence the value.
One thing to remember while trying to prepare the problem statement is to consider the constraints as well, which might not be explicity specified. Constraints like budget, deadlines, availability of resources, competition will restrict us, and acknowledging them will help us build a better solution space. Like constraints, there is another set of implicit aspects, which can help us articulate our problem – standards. Standards can help us realize the unsaid requirements, which usually raise their head later, and can be significant enough to double your efforts.
Of course, a project fails when the value and the investment are not in sync. Or when the stakeholders realize that. But this is well known. Most of the projects falter when they do not ask the questions. I am not saying that these questions are enough to make a project successful, but they sure are necessary.
In fact, it is bad to address the ventures as projects, they are actually solutions. Maybe that is the first step.