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4 Big Reasons Why Technology Projects Fail (And How to Avoid Them)

It’s often mentioned that well over half of all technology projects fail.  That percentage increases with the size of the project.  With this understanding, why would anyone ever venture into another technology initiative that has at least a 50% chance of becoming a debacle? 

Well, of course it’s because those projects that do succeed often add significant value to your organization.  Technology, done right, can be a game changer. 

Yes, technology can be a really great thing; however failed projects are not.  So how do you avoid ending up on the wrong side of this statistic?  Well, the secret is to understand the real reason so many projects fail and then avoid those elements that contribute to failure. 

In this article, we’re going to talk about the reasons technology projects fail, and how you can avoid them.

1. Too much attention on technology: 

Technology projects shouldn’t be all about implementing technology.  They should be about optimizing processes and the use of data within your organization.  Technology itself is only a portion of the overall solution.  Be sure not to let your team forget that.  Here’s a tip: If your project is named after the software you have selected, then your focus may be wrong.  Name your project after its primary objective.  For example, instead of referring to your effort as the “Power BI” project, call it the “Business Intelligence” project.  Focus on the actual element that adds value to the organization, not just the software.  If you don’t, team members tend to forget or at least de-emphasize those non-technology related aspects of the project that are just as important to success. 

2. Too many technology people:

Now I’m a tech guy, but a good project team has diversity.  Your technical team should have individuals who are “technology agnostic”.  Their goal is to ask you questions about your business, process, and goals without regard to any solution.  When evaluating technology suppliers, ask them how and, more importantly, who collects requirements.  If they say something like, our “Software Engineers” will meet with you to understand how you would like the software configured” that’s a big red flag.  A better answer would be, “Our Business Analysts will meet with you to understand how you work and what you need in order for your job to become easier.” 

The difference between speaking with a Software Engineer and a Business Analyst is significant.  For example, a Software Engineer may ask you the following question: 

“How would you like this displayed on the screen?” 

However, a Business Analyst would never bother you with such a question. Instead, a well-qualified analyst will ask you about your process and what your process needs from the software.  What do you do most often and what information is most important to you.  Using this information the Analyst will design the screen for you based on your needs. 

3. Your project objective is a moving target:

Hunters always prefer to shoot at a stationary target.  It’s significantly more challenging to hunt prey on the run.  The same is true for your project.  The project’s objectives need to be clearly defined, in detail from the beginning.  Yes, things always change throughout the life of the project.  However, those initially defined objectives should not.  If, by chance the objectives do need to change, well then you have a new project, the old one is dead.  It needs to be thought of in this sense in order to ensure everyone on the team is aimed at the same target at all times and to ensure that target is clearly visible. 

4. Poor Management Derails Projects:

Technology projects are complex ecosystems, and clear communication is the lifeblood that keeps them thriving. However, poor project management often creates a communication fog, leading to unclear scope, information silos, unrealistic expectations, and ultimately, project failure. To combat this, establish clear goals and scope, foster open communication across all levels, implement transparent reporting systems, and set realistic expectations.

In Conclusion – technology projects are not about technology

But fear not! Technology can be a game-changer, and success stories abound. Technology projects are about the people executing them as much as they are about the technology. One way to hedge your bets is to choose a technology partner who thinks about important aspects beyond technology.

Remember, technology success isn’t just about the tech itself; it’s about proactive planning, a diverse team, clear objectives, and considering all aspects of the solution. By taking these steps, you can significantly increase your chances of joining the ranks of those who successfully leverage technology to achieve game-changing results. 

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