Why IT Projects Fail – Again and Again and Again

Here’s a great post that I spotted this morning that describes why IT Contracts fail. Though it seems to center around legal aspects – I believe that the true reasons go deeper.

Most IT project failure  leads back to  fully thinking and understand the scope of the project. In the race to get the (free) quote and the (free) assessment from the IT providers the customer forgets to analyze whether they’re making a sound long term decision.

I see this all the time. People (admittedly on a much smaller scale) think they can email a request to dozens of vendors with a request to “give them a price” for a certain project.

In my world it’s usually an upgrade of their MAS90 accounting software. However occasionally it is for a new software implementation. In each instance I’m incredibly nervous that the person making the email request has incorrectly assessed their needs.

As VARS we are left with two choices:

A. Go out and do a free paid analysis (which invariably gets used to solicit bids from a preferred provider)

B. Guess at a number (and hope that if it’s approved that the project doesn’t have any hidden “gotchas”)

The core issue is that customers unwilling to developer a project definition are looking for a Chevy price when in fact they realistically need the current year’s Rolls Royce because they often don’t have the internal understanding of what’s desired/needed and think that the software magically cures the issue.

While this example specifically relates to software I believe it accurately depicts most complex projects where the customer wants a one price bid to fix something they don’t understand.

Sadly the IT world still largely operates under a model where pre-sales consultations are assumed to be completely free and the customer assumes that they’ve correctly identified both current and future technical and business issues (or that they can use a free quote to do so).


When It Comes To Enterprise Software – It’s The Contract Stupid image via

One Reply to “Why IT Projects Fail – Again and Again and Again”

  1. The notion that complex projects of any type can/should be scoped and pre-analyzed for free in a bid situation is insane. What instead customers should imho be doing is vetting the consulting firms head to head.

    How insane is it that in IT land some customers primarily use a quote (often obtained anonymously over the Internet) to guide a project that they most likely have NO idea of the complexity.

    And judging from emails I have received from other consultants and our group communications — many VARS fall for this trick over and over and over.

    Prime reason? It’s uncomfortable for them to turn down business.

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