Why IT / Social Collaboration Projects Fail

Presentation by Alan Pelz-Sharpe at Social Workplace Conference 2012

The main takeaways from Alan’s presentation on why organisations can fail when embarking on integrating social collaboration software.

Larger IT projects fail more spectacularly and more often! More complexity means a greater chance of failure.

Alan asks – what is the business case for most IT decisions?
Answer: there usually isn’t one!

But, when a business case is used properly, it can be incredibly valuable. Often it proves that the project does not need to happen!

What are the main questions you have to ask yourself before embarking on an IT project?

  1. Do you have enough of the right resources and at the right time?
  2. How will you address any resistance? Why are people going to love the new system you integrate? Do you understand what the users will actually need or are you making assumptions?
  3. Have you chosen the right product for the scenario? Or have you just gone with the market leader “just because”. Ask: what are the processes that users will need to deal with? Remember to look at software companies who have worked with others in your industry – their experience may help you to answer some of your own questions and challenges.
  4. Have you worked out your budget correctly? Configuration of the software for your specific needs is going to take time and money (and probably more of both than you would expect). How will you train your users? Has the vendor accounted for all the integration and maintenance costs? What if things go wrong?
  5. Do you know what the business processes are? Is there real change happening in the business? If no: don’t do the project.
  6. Have you thought about how the “big bang” project can go without the “big blow up”? Start with something small you’re pretty sure is going to be successful and follow with incremental deployments.
  7. Are all the stakeholders considered in your decision? Have you defined what success of the project means to them?
  8. Have you accounted for enterprise complexity? If you don’t bring in the people with the skills you need, the project is really likely to sink. Being aware of the upcoming complexities from people who understand them is absolutely vital to the success of a project.

Basic tips to avoid failure

  1. Measure openly and objectively
  2. Schedule go-no-go decision points
  3. Spent 100% more time in gathering stakeholder input
  4. Encourage honest views and dialogue
  5. Recognise that pulling a doomed project early is a success
  6. Translate business models into Architecture Designs
  7. Accept that all problems are people problems

Watch Alan’s interview where he discusses this subject further.