Causes of IT Project Management Failure and Probable Solutions

Projects by nature are not systemic. They do not involve repetitive work and processes. Every project is unique and involves widespread team players. They have a fixed start and end schedule. This makes management and systemization all the more challenging. These challenges typically surround projects not being completed within the scheduled date, exceeding the budget and going out of scope. Various issues lead to an IT project failure.

Here we will focus on some of the major causes that lead to an IT project failure and try to provide solutions to them.

Inability to obtain information on time: In a fast paced environment, project managers may not be able to update the schedule as he might get busy with managing other project related problems and resource allocation. Resources are also shared across multiple projects. All of this leads to incomplete updating of the task schedule. Executives do not have visibility of the entire enterprise project. They are also not able to view the schedules real-time or view the project report. This makes the management incapable of re-directing effort or cancellation things go awry. Even the team members are unaware of the daily task or task priority if involved in multiple projects. Inability to obtain the most needed information at the right time by all the stakeholders (manager, management and team member) leads to confusion and poor visibility of project priorities. (1)

Poor resource allocation and team support: If the project manager allocated to handle a project does not have the correct level of competency required to handle the project, it is disaster-prone. Project managers are chosen on the basis of their availability. Lack of adequate support from all departments may also cause project failure. Team support is critical for project completion. Inability of the manager to establish task allocation, personal rewards, evaluation of personal contribution, and goal synchronization (team and project goals) may lead to poor collaboration for project success. (2)

Poor project requirements: Using poor requirement gathering techniques may mess up the project. Requirement gathering techniques include requirement elicitation through use cases, reports, interface, user screen design specification, etc. There are various details to be captured in the process of the requirement analysis stage. Poor requirement analysis can also lead to project creep in the future leading to cost and time overrun. Requirement analysis techniques should be strong enough for project scoping and delay prevention. Not gathering the correct set of details may lead to failure.

Unrealistic delivery schedule may further lead to poor requirement. Aiming to do excessive changes in a short time span, instead of realistic schedules for small and iterative delivery, can mess up a project too. (3)

Hence, instead of missing deadlines by providing an overoptimistic delivery schedule, it is best to make room for buffer and allot some extra time for handling last minute issues.

Improper Communication: Communication is extremely important for a project’s success. Lack of proper meeting and communication between various team members may lead to poor schedule maintenance and may not keep stakeholders on the same page. This may result in goal disorientation. Regular communication ensures the team goals and project goals are in sync with each other. Generally, emails are the norm for maintaining communication between various stakeholders. Many times, all members do not get covered in the information loop or miss out on a piece of information due to the sheer volume of information sharing involved. Precious time also gets lost when team members are sifting through heaps of mail.

Probable Solutions

1. A centralized, visible location of project schedules enables all major stakeholders to view project schedules (either in a network folder or an extranet solution having access permission rights set). Using enterprise project management software can come in handy for this purpose. It enables managing projects in a single database so team members can access database remotely if the project management software is web based. (4)

2. The business analysts should be well trained for being able to do the correct requirement analysis. (5)

It is essential to have clearly defined goals for projects to prevent scope change in the future. Good requirement analysis can lead to a well-defined project scope. Further project monitoring is required to ensure that the team is within scope. If project creep occurs, request changes should be analyzed to provide a fresh estimate of schedule and cost. There should be a system in place supporting and tracking the scope change This also assists in auditing performance before and after project completion.

3. Project manager with the correct competency set should be assigned to a project. From the very beginning, he/she should rope in the entire team to discuss project details and its importance. Discussion should center around project goals, individual contributions, evaluation mechanisms, and personal rewards on project success. Focus of the PM should be to synchronize individual and project goals.

4. A centralized communication channel should be established to facilitate communication between various stakeholders. A web based system or meeting software can be used for this purpose for project related task communication. The software can post all important project related information at one location. Centralized communication is helpful for clients trying to resolve questions and problems concerning projects – goals, scope, important steps achieved etc. (6)

5. It is always good to make use of software to automate project management and handling, but choice of software is also essential. All team members should be comfortable using it. Hence, effective training should be given to ensure proper utilization of project management software.

References

(3) Project-Skills. “Top 7 Reasons For Project Management Failure.” 2014. Project-Skills Website. 26 February 2015
(2, 5) Schiff, Jennifer L. “12 Common Project Management Mistakes–and How to Avoid Them.” 26 September 212. CIO Website. 26 February 2015
(1,4,6) West, Cynthia, K. “Four Common Reasons Why Projects Fail.” Project Insight Website. 26 February 2015