It seems that the message is not getting through. It seems as if people almost expect IT projects to fail – and fail spectacularly, yet for years professional bodies and respected entities have been highlighting this very problem and what could or should be done about. Older articles such as this one (August 2013, “When IT Projects Fail…”) through to the more recent August 2017, “Why IT Projects Still Fail…” paint a very similar picture – although there are 5 years between them.
Does this mean that senior management and boards are not learning the lessons?
It seem’s they are not. Here we see yet another failed project – this one racking up nearly $86 million (AUD) before being binned.
Every year there seems to be page upon page listing projects that have been cancelled, over-spent, under-delivered or simply were horribly wrong. It also seems that we are stuck in some kind of Groundhog Day with regards to project delivery – constantly repeating past mistakes or finding new ones to add to the old.
Yet when you trawl through the wreckage, one thing is constant amongst all project failures – and that is a failure in governance. Not the operational governance (which is defined within many large organisations and remains the domain of the “Project Management Office”), but rather the true governance and accountability that should sit across all levels of a project.
The ability of the project manager to be able and willing to tell the truth however ugly or bad it is. The ability for their team members to do the same – and even more importantly, for the project managers stakeholders to be able to listen and accept bad news without seeking to turn the situation into a “blame game”. It’s the ability to be truly “grown-up” about the situation – to display the truth as clearly and accurately as possible without attributing blame, to seek rational and useful outcomes that don’t box people into corners and instil fight-or-flight behaviour. Its about really coming together as a team and ensuring that neither organisational culture or habit prevent the best decisions from being made.