Why info systems fail

If you only have time to read one news article today, read this one from the Financial Post.

Don’t leave IT to the techies – Three problems lead to system failures describes in sickening detail the amounts wasted on failed information systems, and the main causes of these failures.

An astounding 68% of information technologies projects fail. This costs the world economy about $6.2-trillion a year. That’s about $200,000 a second; imagine all the tech writers you could buy with that.

Here is the most important line in this article: “…failure, in most cases, has little to do with the technology and everything to do with the business process.”

Specifically, the three main causes of IT project failure are:

  • the project manager failing to understand the business requirements
  • the system’s users not being involved in its design
  • senior management failing to get involved in the project

This is true of any IT project, including any documentation or content management system.

If the documentation manager does not understand the specific business requirements of the proposed system, it will fail.

If the information developers are not involved in choosing or designing a system, or if the system is too difficult to use, it will fail.

If senior management (which can include VPs, CFOs, CIOs or any other alphabet soup) does not support or get involved in the project, it will fail.

It’s a clichĂ© but it’s true – people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.

Finally, in the one minute it took you to read this blog entry, another $12 million was wasted…

Advertisements

One thought on “Why info systems fail

  1. And that's why good project managers, who are sometimes former technical writers, get the big bucks. Projects need someone who can engage all the stakeholders, make it clear what success means and what failure involves, and extract the true criteria for the project from a mass of wishes and arm-waving.

Comments are closed.