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IT Project Flops

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 Manolo Palao Posted in IT Consequences

The Standish Group was formed in 1985, with a vision. It was to collect case information on real-life IT failures and environments. Why? We do this in order to profile your projects and environments against those cases and deliver advice based on collective wisdom.”


Since then they have published an amazing number of cases of IT project failures and a rich series of analysis and good/bad practices.


Their “CHAOS Manifesto 2013 .Think Big, Act Small” presents empirical evidence of the higher failure risk of large projects. 


A study of IT banking projects ranging from 2003 to 2012 shows that small projects (less than 1 million USD in manpower) succeeded in 66% of the cases, while they failed or were challenged in the other 34% of the cases. On the contrary, in the case of large (more than 10 million USD in manpower) projects, successes were only 7%, the rest being failures or challenged projects.


The Standish Group has developed a guideline for the Software Innovation Center, with “four basic tenets … The first tenet is that software ideas and projects are done in levels. The second tenet is that there are no project budgets or estimates; funding is by level only. The third tenet is that each level is optimized. And fourth, iteration is the underlying methodology” (From “CHAOS Manifesto 2013 .Think Big, Act Small”)


There are 4 progressive levels (the Standish Innovation Funnel concept) with decision points where a committee decides whether a project remains at that level or passes to the next one.


Breadbasket budgeting’ is used to segment budgets to allow carrying out activities such as business opportunity discovery, specifications, etc. without being committed to a specific project.


Each level is optimized considering capability, focus, risk, value, budget, timing and conflict.


The process is agile, based on iterative development, for rapid delivery.



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