We all know that a majority of projects fail and IT projects are no exception.  Failure is generally measured against one or more of three primary criteria – on time delivery, on budget delivery, and customer satisfaction.  And I’m not talking complete and utter failure….a project can still be delivered and its solution can be utilized while still basically being deemed a failure. The three major factors that can contribute significantly to a project success are (1) timely user involvement, (2) executive management support, and (3) a clear user requirements. There are other success criteria, but with these three elements in place, the chances of success are much greater. Without them, organizations run a high risk of failure.

Organizations should carefully consider whether projects are too excessive to undertake in one go, as this approach may impact the success or failure of a project. This is particularly important if a project is influenced by many business dependencies. The number of project failures could be dramatically reduced by dividing the entire project into relatively smaller projects or phases using your project scheduling tool, with each successive project or phase being reviewed and approved before the next one is started. The advantage of such a structured approach is that it helps to reduce the complexity of planning, monitoring, and control. IT projects are good examples of complex projects that could possibly benefit from this approach.

The following list identifies some common factors that can often affect the outcomes of IT project engagements.

Common Factors affecting IT Projects:

- Incomplete requirements

- Lack of user involvement

- Lack of resources

- Unrealistic expectations

- Lack of executive support

- Changing requirements & specifications

- Lack of planning

- Client no longer needs project

- Lack of IT management

- Technological illiteracy

The most significant cause of failure to deliver the business benefits is inadequate staff preparation and training. There are several major questions that project managers should ask when managing and monitoring a project.

- Is the project's planning time scale adequate for negotiation, purchase, development, installation, training, and support?

- Is this still a solution that is based on a standard package implementation?

- Are the changes to working practices and financial procedures still minimal and controllable?

- Are the contract and supplier relationships aligned to the project?

- Does the vendor continue to demonstrate a good understanding of the business requirements?

- Are the mechanisms in place to manage requests for changes while the project is in progress and to identify requirements for the next upgrade to the system?