Why do IT projects fail? We have the answer

IT projects fail. Often. But why?

Why do IT projects fail? We can find a variety of reasons just by entering this question into a search engine. We would receive a variety of reasons, from lack of project management skills, little knowledge of the technology industry, until we expect the developer to execute the entire project by himself. Perfectly valid reasons. But we believe that behind all of them, there is a key reason: the lack of an ultimate goal.

Let us tell you a story. May 1961. Full Cold War. The United States was losing “by a score” the so-called space race. The old Soviet Union had put the first satellite – Sputnik – into orbit in 1957 and the first human being, Yuri Gagarin, a month earlier. That could only mean one thing: red supremacy over space.

Faced with this, President Kennedy made a decision: to put a man on the Moon and bring him back safely before the end of the decade. At that time, few, very few believed it might be possible. The enterprise was enormous. The program that would build the vessel to reach the Moon barely showed up. The effects of space on human beings were not known, especially on long voyages. In short, uncertainties were greater than certainties.

Eight years later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface. Mission accomplished.

So what’s the magic potion?

Well, what does this story tell us? That no matter the difficulties, or the lack of resources, at the time of facing a project the fundamental thing is to have a well-defined final objective. For the case, it was closing the technological gap that was perceived with the Soviet Union, not winning the space race.

You may ask yourselves: what does this have to do with my organization? A lot. When facing a technology project, it isn’t only necessary to analyze what the expected partial benefits will be, but also to consider what we can call a strategic objective. It is good for a company to consider that the development of project X will achieve a 30% increase in sales at the end of the cycle or a reduction in operating costs. But if we set an objective such as being the leader in our market segment, or doubling our share of the industry in the next five years, the project will surely have the best chances of succeeding.

Remember. Search for the final objective. And your project will succeed.

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