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Killing IT Softly

Throwing in the towel on IT projects

Nobody wants to have their project killed, but sometimes it is a necessary evil. As a project manager or the CIO you should know how and when to put an IT project out of its misery.

Things that you will need to understand:
~ How to prevent the project coming off the rails
~ How & when to kill the project
~ Handle the fallout

When any project fails, let alone IT projects, there follows a destructive force leaving a path of destruction. The Board, Finance Directors in particular, look the expenditure and the return on the capital employeed (ROCE); IT and project teams are demoralised and in worst cases are "out the door"; and the credibility of IT takes a beating. Due to the continued reporting of high profile IT project going incredibly over budget, not meeting specification or another chief getting the push the number of people looking to move into IT project management is dwindling.

Killing IT project is a crucial and necessary aspect of any CIO's position as a large percentage of projects do fail. Outsourcing to implementations, Data cleansing to Business intelligence, nearly half of all projects started never reach completion (Gartner Group).

high tech waste

Why IT goes wrong

Projects fail for so many reasons: business requirements change, a market shift, new technology or legislation changes. Under the wreckage it is common to find evidence of out of control costs, errors in the project management and defective or inefficient systems.

Many if these factors are beyond the control of the CIO, but there is a great deal they can do to prevent a project from failing. At least they should mitigate the level of risk and ensure the same mistakes are not repeated. Yet, mentioned earlier, many members of failed project teams find they are not working on the next project or working for the business.

'What you reap, is what you sow." does ring true when it comes to IT projects as many are destined for failure from the outset. Far too often neither the business nor the project team clearly define the problem or the solution which leads to constants battles. With an internal IT team this type of problem is the largest stumbling block of them all, as the business rarely fully comprehends the need for a detailed specification in order to ensure the technical team ultimately provide a solution to the correct problem.

No CIO wants to pull the plug on an IT project but at times its the only option.

Projects that under go a significant scope change part way through are highlighting the failure to clearly define the initial requirements. The CIO or project manager should have a concrete plan before initiating the project.

It could be the fundamental failure to clearly communicate. Poor communication and unrealistic expectations conveyed to the senior management team. The weaker the original plan and less well defined the lower the chances of get initial or continued support from the management team or Board.

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