The Easy-to-Solve Problem That Derails Most IT Projects
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IT projects can fail for a number of reasons, but they most often fail when major decisions are made in an isolated manner and decision makers are not on the same page, new research has found.

Overall, 70 percent of IT decision makers surveyed in North America and Europe said they have had at least one IT project fall through because of conflicting decisions that were unknown during the original planning. More than sixty percent of those respondents say they have had more than one failure on an IT project.  

Respondents said one-third of the projects they worked on were discontinued, and nearly half of respondents experienced a delay at some point during the execution of the project. Despite delays and problems, 52 percent of the surveyed respondents said they are satisfied with the performance of their projects. 

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"Projects can easily derail because interdependencies between the various portfolios are often invisible until an issue crops up," said Erik Masing, CEO and co-founder of alfabet, a provider of IT planning and business IT management solutions. "For instance, if one group is about to shut down a certain technology while another group is planning a new application on that same technology, these people need to talk."

To that end, communication was a major barrier to the completion of projects, the researchers found. Respondents all reported dealing with divergent viewpoints from workers and managers when working on projects. Additionally, decision makers also reported problems in reaching all parties involved in the decision-making process. Respondents from around the world said the time it takes to speak to all parties involved in a decision can range from two days to 17 days.   

Planning adds another challenge to the successful completion of IT projects, the researchers noted. The planning process can take anywhere from 50 days to 180 days, IT decision makers said.

"The planning phase presupposes information about the impact of decisions," said Masing. "For instance, requirements such as disposable budget, available technologies or legal regulations at the beginning of a 180-day planning process are often different than midstream or towards the end of planning."

The research was based on the responses of IT decision makers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Canada.

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