Why do technology projects fail?

Technology is at the heart of most businesses, even if the organization’s business is not technology. Either because online channels are used to sell, databases exist to better understand different types of clients, workflows are set up for process automation, order tracking systems deployed to keep happy customers: companies today make use of technology on a daily basis.

However, technology implementation projects have a much higher failure statistics than most projects. Very often, projects are canceled after having many delays, cost overruns, and without completing the expected developments.

After years of managing technology projects in organizations of different sizes and sectors, I have identified 3 frequent scenarios that lead technology projects to failure:

Hire a developer and expect him to execute the entire project.

Programming is a necessary skill when a development is made, but it is not the only one. Software development groups include requirements analysts, interface designers, software architects, testing professionals, infrastructure engineers, among others. To think that a programmer can replace all the roles, or even more to assume that only programming is needed to implement a project, usually leads to failure.

Assign the project as one more task in the day to day of an operative team.

When working on a project, managing the scope is as important as meeting the planned times, the budget and achieving the planned quality. The sense of urgency is in guaranteeing the fulfillment of the objectives as planned. But, the day to day of an operation, where there are constantly incidents to attend to, is blurring that urge to comply with the restrictions of the project. Project management discipline is required, and in some things, personnel dedicated only to the management and monitoring of projects.

Address each project as if it were the first time a project is executed.

If policies for the organization are not developed, and standard methodologies, measurement models, any organization is condemned to repeat its same mistakes over and over again. Only if the historical documentation of the projects is maintained, are they measured with the same metrics and criteria, and analysis of lessons learned can an organization improve its performance in the execution of projects. Having a project office, whether full-time or not, has long-term benefits.

Software engineering, in particular, is an unknown discipline for people who do not work in it. But not being an expert in software development is an impediment to appropriating technology and using it successfully in your company.

Alethia Consultores SAS performs requirements documentation, planning and project management for you and offers Virtual Project Office services.

María M Velasco is CEO of Alethia Consultores, Certified PMP and has more than 15 years experience in managing software projects. You can view her CV in www.mariamvelasco.me

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