Why do IT projects fail today?
There could be a lot of reasons why IT projects fail today.
To mention a few reasons; a lack of planning and management engagement, project communication, failing to manage user expectations, too much customizing, shortage of resources, like a lack of skilled workforce and poor testing in general.
Let’s dive into this tricky topic and take a closer look at the top 3 reasons out of our hands-on experience.
1 Shortage Of Talent
Starting with the most severe reason, the global shortage of IT talent. In recent years, there has been a huge increase in demand for workers in the technical field, programmers and other IT specialists. All this at a time when there is already a major shortage of global talent. But this shortage is not really new, according to a 2019’ study from pwc 56% of CEOs stated that they have deep concerns about the overall availability of top IT talent. That was in the year of 2011 – more than 10 years ago. In the last few years, this has almost doubled. Global events such as the COVID 19 pandemic have accelerated technological change across industries, which only increases the overall need for IT talent.
Well the markets certainly don’t sleep, so companies who do not find a solution to attract the right talent will soon find themselves unable to compete with companies that can implement new technology faster.
How to solve this
First of all, you could focus more on the talent you already have in your company. We speak of reskilling and upskilling your existing workforce.
I’ll let the study speak for itself: “The World Economic Forum estimates that it will cost US$24,000 per head to reskill displaced US workers, but when set against the alternatives — severance payments for workers who are let go and the cost of finding new workers with in demand skills, amongst other things …”
On top of all this comes the monthly expenses for each worker that needs to be reskilled. That makes this option very – if not – too costly, which brings us to upskilling.
People may be very flexible in the right circumstances, and businesses’ capacity to leverage that adaptability will be important as the world of work advances. The good news is that workers are willing to learn new things. Employees are willing to spend two days per month on training to improve their digital skills if their employer offers it, according to a PwC global poll of more than 12,000 workers.
That might sound good, but in order to upskill your workforce you need time. Thus it will lead to increased stress, in order to keep the costs down the training is usually done in addition to the actual work. In the worst case, this leads directly to burnout – now further resources are missing.
Moreover, one could argue whether this approach is not just a polishing of the lack of real needed IT talent instead of actually solving this effectively. I think we can agree that It might work for other areas but not really for the complex IT industry.
This leads us to one last valuable solution:
With the help of outsourcing & similar possibilities such as using remote developer teams or specialists, companies are suddenly able to expand the possible pool of top IT talent to a global level.
For example hiring remote specialists. You should look for an option where you are able to directly communicate with your talent, integrate them into your in-house team, and determine the development path and timeline. All that while you close skill caps in your existing team. To find and employ remote software engineers who have the tech stack and talents you’re looking for is key. By going global you will increase your chance of finding and recruiting best remote developers drastically.
If you are on the verge of setting up a new project and have very limited resources, you might need a whole remote team of devs. If so, you should look out for a third party solution that provides you with a team out of prescreened professionals that are tailored exactly to your demands.
Outsourcing development activities is an excellent approach to provide new projects with a much needed boost. Depending on the type of outsourcing you use (Nearshoring, Offshoring or Onshoring – see one of our last posts for clarification) you will be in a position to solve the main reason why IT projects fail today while saving valuable capital.
2 Scope Creep
What does that mean? Scope creep refers to the tendency for requirements to increase during the project lifetime, such as when a single delivery expands to five. Alternatively, a product that was planned to have three key tasks now needs double the amount. Or when the customer’s requirements change in the middle of a project, causing a re-evaluation of the project’s requirements. Scope creep is primarily caused by changes in important stakeholders’ expectations, but it can also be caused through internal miscommunication and disagreements.
How to solve this
- Watch the status and initial scope of the project
- Make decisions whether correction or preventive action are required in response to change requests
- Compare the actual measured work performance with the original scope with the help of deviation analysis for example
Of course customer demands change over time, and adjusting the scope of a project to meet their needs is quite common today. Key is to anticipate changes and plan for scope creep to happen in a controlled environment. Because then you will be able to react and act in a much smoother way that is more likely to lead to successful project completion.
Keep in mind:
Uncontrolled project changes = scope creep ❌
Controlled project changes = documented changes of the project requirements ✓
3 Poor Project Communication
Last but not least, poor project communication. Nothing new, you might think. But it might surprise you how many projects still lack adequate communications management and the financial impact this has on them. So every project manager knows, communication is key, right? But what makes project communication a factor in project failure?
There could be many reasons for this:
- Communication is not tailored to the stakeholders needs
- IT project practices are not standardized
- No adequate project history
- Communication ignores different cultural backgrounds
- No trackable updates have been agreed upon
- No or poor use of tools
- The project management team does not understand the needs of the IT team
In the past, one would have simply said that the larger the company, the more international and complex 👉 the more confusing the projects. However, no longer according to today’s standards. Nowadays, it is common practice to assign an international team to a project, which is spread across different time zones. Startups, or fortune 500, it mostly doesn’t matter. You have quite similar standards when it comes to how to carry out an IT project.
How to solve this
Be aware of diverse communication backgrounds
Since communication during a project takes two main forms: written and verbal, focus on a very clear way of delivering information to the team. It could well be that some members have a different cultural background, so get to know their way of communicating, be aware of it and adapt. Ever heard of Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions? You should 🙂 See the country comparison overview over different cultural behaviors on Hofstede’s insights.
Good communication with the right tools
Especially in times of remote teams it is important to use proper tools for your communication across the globe. It is up to you whether you use the google workplace solutions or any other provider of your choice. At the end it comes to what works for your team’s purposes best & fits your budget. A big part of codecombinators internal communication is done via google workplace up to google meet for video calls. Otherwise see this list for inspiration.
Speak one project language
It does not matter if you communicate in English, French, German or Japanese. The language itself (as long as it is consistent) is not what I’m after. It is about the communication between the parties involved in the project. Do you speak the language of business, that your stakeholders and clients understand? Or do you have difficulties getting your message across? Try to be transparent and not too cryptic. Your stakeholders will be thankful to you 🙂
Keep these three things in mind and I’m sure your project communication will be on point.📍
To set up a successful IT project is the supreme discipline, no false modesty. In this post, we have shown you the most impactful reasons why IT projects fail from our experience. The last two points can be eliminated by becoming aware of and eliminating potential mentioned sources of error. Here, the special emphasis is on becoming aware. Project monitoring, a constant tracking of the processes is of immense importance for a successful project delivery.
In today’s world of global IT talent shortage however, the first step is to find suitable and affordable IT specialists and to win them for your own project. This is not only extremely costly but also requires a lot of time. See our last post to get a feeling for the numbers.
Luckily we are able to help you with that! If you are looking for proven and prescreened IT professionals, get in touch. We are confident that we will find a solution together.
Written with know how
by Team codecombinator