Different experts and analysts identify a range of 7 to 101 ways Information Technology (IT) projects succeed or fail.  Those failures cost billions of dollars per year in the United States alone and should concern anyone in management who is involved in or considering a new IT project.
 
Incredibly, the 2012 Standish report finds only 39% of IT projects succeed!  This report characterizes this dismal rate of success as “another increase in project success rates.”  The 39% success rate is the highest Standish has reported since it issued its first report in 1995.  Back then, it reported the “success rate was only 16.2%, while challenged projects accounted for 52.7%, and impaired (canceled) for 31.1%.”
 
If you’ve been tasked with launching an IT project, you have plenty of reason to be concerned – 69% of the time people like you fail!
 
Depending on how IT project success is measured, 2014 failure rates are projected at 40-70 percent of all projects undertaken.  A 2011 article in the Harvard Business Review reported that “fully one in six of the projects we studied was a black swan, with a cost overrun of 200%, on average, and a schedule overrun of almost 70%.
 
Catastrophic failure in IT project management is so common that the industry has coined a term for these true disasters.  They are called “Black Swan Projects.”  Black Swan Projects cost people their jobs, have put entire governments on the verge of bankruptcy and have caused businesses to go bankrupt.
 
Given these dismal results over the past decade, you should not be surprised to learn that a Geneca survey showed, “Most people believe that their IT projects are either always or usually “doomed” from their onset (75%).
 
In fact, 27% feel that their IT projects are “doomed” from the very beginning . . .”

Chances are you have your own IT project disaster stories to tell. 

All of us have read or heard about spectacular IT project failures.  A newspaper story reports, for example, that a school district spent $8.5 million on a software project before abandoning it altogether and returning to the program it used previously. 
 
A story on network television reports that yet another major retailer has failed to protect the financial data of millions of customers.

In sum, IT projects have a high failure rate, create enormous costs and risk and can even threaten to destroy entire organizations. What can and must be done to make the success rate, say 89%, not 39%?
 
Many of the answers, solutions, steps and processes may surprise you.  Read the blog, Ten Ways IT Projects Can Succeed, at NetOutcomes.com, or subscribe to the newsletter there.

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About Dave

Dave Tedlock is the head of NetOutcomes, a digital marketing firm. For years he has written a marketing and technology column for various publications, including the Tucson Citizen’s Tucson Business Edge, Idaho Business Review, Inside Tucson Business, and The New Mexico Business Weekly. Tedlock taught writing and business communication for eight years in many universities, including the Harvard Business School and Iowa State University. For 13 years he worked in ad agencies as a copywriter, account manager or creative director. Tedlock has published short stories, scholarly articles and a writing textbook (with Paul Jarvie). He earned a Master’s degree in Fiction Writing from Brown University. He lives in Tucson and Santa Fe.

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