Original Post Date: Monday, March 23, 2009

Here’s a great article I happened upon while doing research for a paper I’m writing.  “Lessons Learned: IT’s Biggest Project Failures”  In this article we are treated to stories of IT projects that “first make people laugh and then” (hopefully) “make them think.”  As a long time student of the failed software project, I was neither surprise nor disappointed with the projects relayed.  The projects noted failed for reasons such as:

  • Failure to perform a should-cost analysis before selecting a supplier
  • Failure to recognize an unhealthy project before it was too late
  • Unrealistic and aggressive timelines
  • Scope creep.
The first project noted was in 1956 and the latest ones are still in progress. What lessons can we learn from this?  The first – which the author was quick to point out – was that we, as an industry, seem to have lost many valuable opportunities to learn from mistakes of our predecessors as we continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.  What I think we should be learning from this is that software projects require thoughtful planning and analysis.  It’s not enough to say that your project will take 18 months and cost $2 million dollars or to accept the supplier on their word that they have a good plan that they can successfully execute.  We need to collect facts about projects, analyze these facts in the context of our past successes and failures.  We also need to continue to monitor the health of our projects as facts change and new facts emerge.  TruePlanning for IT from PRICE Systems is the perfect tool to help turn Lessons Missed into Lessons Learned.   TruePlanning facilitates consistent collection of facts about software projects and provides a framework to put these facts into context