Why IT projects continue to fail at an alarming rate

Just about every modern organisation is scrambling to harness the potential of digital technology to get a competitive edge. Whether it’s to improve the speed of delivery and scale business initiatives enabling employees to quickly innovate services and products, companies are engaged in a dizzying array of digital initiatives.

CIOs and supporting IT teams are in a unique position to drive this transformation; however, more often than not instead of the promised leaps in innovation and productivity, many of these initiatives get bogged down by implementation challenges from integrations with legacy systems to budget and time restraints. The Standish Group Chaos Report found that only 29% of IT project implementations are successful, and 19 percent are considered utter failures.

>See also: UK wasting £37 billion a year on failed agile IT projects

As the success of digital transformation projects become ever more central to competing in many industries, IT leaders need to bridge the gap between successful project deployments and the technology-enabled future.

Here are a couple of reasons IT projects continue to fail at an alarming rate and strategies to address them.

Out with the old, in with the new

One of the first challenges CIOs face when making changes to legacy system is that they have been customised with thousands of lines of code. If the original developers have left, it is almost inevitable that something will go wrong when their code has to be changed.

In fact, the single biggest barrier to successfully deploying modern enterprise software is custom coding. It is time consuming, expensive, and fraught with problems that include both bugs, communication errors between the business users and programmers.

The solution is low-code and no-code platforms. These allow IT to build completely customised applications in a fraction of the time it takes to write custom code and to easily iterate as needs or conditions change.

They remove the risks associated with custom code and ease the transition from legacy to modern applications. Not having to write custom code allows organisations undergoing rapid growth to scale as quickly by deploying new software on top of existing systems, compared to traditional methods that can take months, or longer, to implement.

>See also: Five indicators of a failing IT project (and what you can do)

Instead of waiting months to deploy a project that might not even come to fruition, low-code and no-code platforms empower IT teams to circumvent the challenges associated with code-heavy platforms.

A powerful case in point comes from ENKI, a provider of managed cloud computing services which was dealing with unacceptably slow customer response times caused by a lethargic NetSuite Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

After six-man months and writing 50,000 lines of custom code the problems remained. Casting about for a solution, the IT team tried out a no-code platform. They were stunned to find that they could replicate all the Netsuite customisations within just ten days and rolled out the project to the organisation within two weeks.

The lesson is that custom code is complex, and often results in over-spending, missed deadlines, and commonly, the inability to even deploy the project.

A foundational step: Infrastructure assessment

A commonly overlooked digital transformation pitfall, especially for fast-growing companies is the condition of a company’s underlying IT infrastructure. It is common for IT teams to build in capacity for expected usage peak numbers; however, IT teams need to plan for at least four times this expected peak and assume that any given piece of hardware, including motherboards, will fail.

Another imperative before embarking on any major digital project, is to conduct an infrastructure assessment to identify the risk of the current infrastructure and its weaknesses, creating parameters for the IT project.

Deploying new technologies tend to be extremely resource intensive, so it’s prudent to utilise a third-party firm or an IT Infrastructure Assessment tool an objective survey of the infrastructure’s capacity.

>See also: Business Intelligence: the business case behind successful IT projects

Needless to say, despite the huge costs of failed digital projects not only in realising hoped for business outcomes but also in terms of lost productivity and morale, few small or mid-size organisations have the resources or inclination to invest in these best practices.

Another advantage of low and no-code platforms is they tend to have much fewer infrastructure requirements.

As digital systems take on an increasingly important role in automating operations, managing risk and maximising productivity, IT teams will be tasked with regularly deploying new initiatives on time and cost-effectively. Fast-moving organisations cannot afford the setback and cost of a project misfire.

Investing in early-stage assessments to verify infrastructure requirements and utilising low-code and no-code platforms offers the adaptability and scalability advantages necessary to deploy successful projects that drive business initiatives forward.


Sourced by Colin Earl, CEO of Agiloft

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...