Statistics is a hard thing. By IBM research more than a half of IT projects fails.

Only 40% of projects meet schedule, budget and quality goals. Theirs conclusion is that the biggest barriers to success are people factors. IT projects often fail due to a lack of focus among team members. Sometimes nobody on the team is exclusively focused on the project and everybody retains some level of responsibility for other projects, tasks, or jobs. More frequently, IT resources are dedicated to the project, but the business users and sponsors try to fit project tasks around everyday jobs. Under these circumstances, IT projects always go off track, normally very quickly, and normally necessitating massive rework, leading to budget and time overruns.

Any large project involves many people. Success or failure is generally based on the skills and effectiveness of the people involved, their ability to focus on the project, team dynamics and openness to change. Failure to engage stakeholders is a classic mistake.

Active support, engagement and involvement of business users and executive sponsors is critical. Only they know exactly what the requirements are, can tell whether the system is meeting those requirements, and can make key decisions. And only they can encourage adoption once the system is deployed. Failure to establish a sponsor in the business is attached to most technology implementation failures.

Fortunately, all is not lost. Here are five steps to improving the ‘people-based’ factors affecting IT delivery:

  1. Integrate technology into strategic planning
  2. Establish an open planning process
  3. Solidify the technology/business relationship via governance
  4. Set and share a simple, multi-year roadmap for overall business strategy
  5. Teach and promote communication and relationship skills