Project Failure or Success…Your Guess!


Project failure, not a subject that many like to discuss.

I was doing some research for a UK Government client and came across some interesting facts:

  • About one-third of projects will be cancelled before they ever get completed.
  • About half of projects will cost nearly double their original estimates.
  • An IT project is more likely to be unsuccessful than successful.
  • Only 20% of IT projects are likely to bring full satisfaction.
  • The larger the project the more likely the failure.

Good news for some, about one-third of all projects are a “complete success”, at least that are completed on-time and on-budget.

Obviously, it is difficult to ascertain from the research available how the results were determined, quantified and qualified. But it still is interesting.

I have run assessments on projects, budgets ranging from £100,000 to £multi-million, and although they completed successfully, had been “on track” for the majority of the life-cycle, they were in fact mere shadows of their initial self. During the project lifecycle, the original business requirements got de-scoped for whatever reason or rationale.

I’m sure the project team viewed these as a complete success, but how did the business, those areas that were waiting for the originally-proposed features and functions to be delivered feel. The business may view the project as failing.

From my research it appears that many projects end up with approximately 50% of the originally-proposed features and functions.

So it would appear project success has many forms. As does project failure.

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