Fewer than one in three software projects produce successful outcomes; according to the Standish Group’s Chaos report for 2015, 66 percent end in partial or total failure. This paltry rate of success, based on analysis of 50,000 projects worldwide, is broadly unchanged over the last five years. Whatever the reasons for failure, it seems that project teams are not learning from their mistakes.

Of course, success is a relative term. It can be defined and measured in any number of ways, and often depends on context – and on what the story needs to be. The Standish Group’s definition requires projects to be on time, on budget and to produce a satisfactory result – an examination of value, user and sponsor satisfaction, and target requirements. Regardless, anyone involved in technology projects will know that far too many fail to deliver the benefits envisioned at their outset. Extrapolating from those experiences, it is likely that billions of pounds and millions of hours are wasted annually on delivering changes that either do not add value or end up being cancelled altogether. Clearly, there are huge gains to be had if we can just avoid some of the factors that contribute frequently to project failure.

Some prerequisites for a successful project are obvious and well-established – getting the requirements right, providing effective leadership and having the full support and engagement of sponsors and users. Without these in place, no project is likely to succeed. This article considers some of the less apparent means of reducing the risks to your technology projects.

Jul-Sep 2016 Issue