For years I’ve been telling people that delivering successful IT projects is not ‘rocket science’. After all we’ve got a huge body of past experience to learn from, we’ve even got a Project Management Body of Knowledge! But still we see projects failing for reasons that get enumerated and dissected post hoc (often in this very blog).
But now it is time to admit that I was wrong. Clearly delivering successful IT projects is like rocket science, and it is time we acknowledged that it is hard to do successfully.
The recent 2006 Chaos Report from The Standish Group shows that 19 percent of development projects were outright failures, compared with 31.1 percent in 1994. This is not much of an improvement over 12 years, rather it is an embarrassment with approximately 1 in 5 projects failing. It tells me that we are completely wrong headed in saying that IT project management is easy and if everyone just followed the rules all would be well.
What we actually need to do is to admit that IT projects are hard, complicated and prone to failure. They are, in fact, just like rocket science and we need to put our best and brightest to work on them. We need to ensure that everyone working on projects is actually trained to work on projects, acknowledging that it is not a place for the gifted amateur.
Nobody would put untrained people to work on building rockets to send to the moon, only trained rocket scientists are welcome on those kind of projects. We need to become just as focused on getting people with the correct skills on IT projects. The skills development even needs to be pushed out to business owners of projects so that they understand the basic science of projects, and why certain things have to be done at certain times.
It is time for the entire industry to stop playing around and wasting huge amounts of organisational resources and capital on unsuccessful IT projects. It is time to apply discipline and skill to the delivery of IT projects. No longer should it be the preserve of the gifted amateurs within the organisation. Instead, we need to spread the word that delivering successful IT projects is exactly like rocket science and that it needs appropriately skilled and trained resources to apply the body of knowledge.