The First Step to Avoid Digital Project Failure

  • 17-Mar-2016

There are enough and more academic / industry studies that document the high failure rate of digital projects. Cost and time overruns, buggy implementations, unhappy users, and unfulfilled roadmaps remain common symptoms of project failure.

What Are the Reasons for Failed Projects?

I've spent a good part of my professional life researching why these projects don't adequately fulfill their objectives.  My accumulated list of reasons probably won't surprise you:

  • Lack of expertise, among both Business and IT participants
  • Failure to re-configure processes to exploit new opportunities
  • Lack of IT and Business alignment
  • Insufficient governance
  • Scope- and feature-creep
  • Wrong tools selected for the job (one of the reasons RSG exists)
  • Insufficient staffing
  • Inattention to user-centered design principles
  • And so on...

To be sure, the combination of factors can vary.  Every unhappy program is unhappy in its own way.

What is to be done?  In this and subsequent posts, my colleagues and I will offer some practical steps you can take to reduce the risk of project failure. 

Here's what I think you should do first.

First: Know Yourself

The first step to mitigate any failure is to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses, if possible against standard benchmarks.  Now there's an app for that.

RealScore allows you to analyze your organization in terms of different capabilities and how effective you are in exploiting those capabilities. By doing this analysis, you can readily identify specific dimensions where you excel or lag.

An ECM Example

Consider the following chart from the analysis of a hypothetical enterprise trying to be more effective managing enterprise documents and records (a.k.a., "ECM").

RealScore by dimension

As you can see, after the analysis, you can easily find out how your fare across different dimensions of Human, Information, and Systems.

Then you can drill further, as the next graphic shows:

RealScore by metric

You can easily visualize specific metrics that might hint at future program failure. In this example, you can readily make out that while the company has addressed issues related to expertise, it has paid insufficient attention to its processes. A large implementation without actually changing or modifying your processes is potentially a recipe for disaster.

Assessment in Context

A solid self-assessment alone will not prevent digital project failures. But it's a starting point for an essential analysis of how you need to prepare yourself for success going forward.

You can try our RealScore tool today and see for yourself.

P.S. Once you complete the assessment, find me on LinkedIn or Twitter and let me know how you scored...

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