More than ten years ago, researchers examining over two hundred information technology projects found that on average, only one in eight IT projects could be considered truly successful.
Most of the studied projects were cancelled, abandoned as failures or ran over budget. Management issues and business imperatives were just two of the causal factors identified.
Fast-forward to more recent times: a study by the Harvard Business Review found that one in six IT projects have an average cost overrun of 200 percent. Meanwhile, another study found that 75 percent of business and IT executives expect IT projects to fail.
Though these figures paint a grim picture of the state of IT policy in the professional world they do highlight one thing: honesty is the best IT policy.
Setting goals and expectations: where honesty matters
The first step to developing any IT policy is to set goals, objectives and expectations.
But according to CIO, unclear objectives and over-optimism are to blame for the failure of many IT projects:
“While preparing business cases, there is a tendency to maximise benefits and under-estimate costs to achieve the right return on investment (ROI). At times, this under-estimation is not intentional, but a result of the CIO having a poor understanding of the current situation and requirements.”
Not being honest and transparent about requirements, business objectives and resources produces unrealistic project timelines and IT policies that don’t meet business needs. In fact, researchers have identified lack of requirements definition, insufficient communication and poor business process alignment as the leading drivers of IT project failure.
Making honesty the heart of your IT policy can address these issues. When business and IT executives are clear on what needs must be met by an IT policy, then expectations about what can be achieved with IT (and how it can be achieved) will be formed appropriately.