There have been reports that as many as one-third of all IT software projects fail and that, at any given point in time, up to two-thirds of ongoing work is in danger of not being completed as originally planned. But what are the signs that you might be heading toward a software disaster?
Why IT Projects Fail
How To Avoid Project Failure
By John McCormick
There have been reports that as many as one-third of all IT software projects fail and that, at any given point in time, up to two-thirds of ongoing work is in danger of not being completed as originally planned.
Gartner, the IT research company, says a big problem is that as many IT organizations try to modernize their applications portfolio, they remain too focused on tactics and lose sight of the big picture.
"The danger is that many organizations are doing the equivalent of looking down at each step they take, rather than picking their heads up and seeing where the steps are leading. For many companies, the potential for an IT train wreck is significant if the warning signs are not heeded." said Scott Nelson, managing vice president at Gartner.
But what are the signs that you might be heading toward a software disaster?
Gartner provides 10 indicators:
No. 1: You face a skills shortage. It's not a good sign if your people spend a lot of time supporting, for example, old systems and you find yourself with few resources for a modernization plan.
No. 2: Your vendors consolidate. If the vendor you brought your software products from is acquired by another vendor, there's always the risk that the new vendor won't keep developing those products. As a result, you may end up expending precious resources to support those products yourself.
No. 3: Your agility metrics start to decay. Agility measures—such as how responsive IT is to the business -- corrode as systems become old and brittle.
No. 4: Operation expenses escalate. Another danger sign, says Gartner, is when operational expenses become a larger portion of the IT budget and there's little money, people or time to do anything new.
No. 5: Your technology portfolio ages. As time passes, the future architecture a company desires just keeps getting further away.
No. 6: Information becomes difficult to access. A business may run on an EPR master record that's based on a product name or number, but if the company turns around and wants to become more customer-centric, getting at the information it needs to do business may become a lot harder.
No. 7: Legacy capacity needs increase. New interfaces, such as Web connections, can drive up transaction volumes. This requires greater spending on traditional processing and storage and so forth, says Gartner.
No. 8: Regulatory compliance issues/risks increase. If you're in an industry facing ever-more regulation, you'll have to keep dedicating more resources to making sure your systems and procedures comply with those new requirements.
No. 9: Direct business purchasing of IT-related services increases. This, says Gartner, "drives up central IT costs and drives agility downward."
No.10: Green IT becomes a major thrust. When a company makes a commitment to go green, it, obviously, has enormous ramifications on their entire IT organization, including the applications portfolio.
To avoid a software train wreck, Gartner says, IT organizations should put strategic planning, rather than tactical budgeting, at the heart of its management agenda.
"By developing an application strategy and focusing on retiring older systems, CIOs will be best placed to fund an IT modernization program that works to drive the IT organization to achieve a desired state," said Andy Kyte, a vice president and Gartner Fellow, in a statement released with the 10-point list.
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