Why IT Projects Get Killed

I like CIO Insight.  They seem to hit a lot of relevant issues.  Their “Why IT Projects Get Killed” is a short slide-show with a simple breakdown of the top five reasons IT projects get killed.  A link to the article is below, and I’ll comment on the top reasons.



  1. 30% Business Needs Changed
  2. 23% Does Not Deliver As Promised
  3. 14% No Longer a Priority
  4. 13% Exceeds Budget
  5. 7% Does not Support Business Strategy

Well, that’s only 87%.  I suppose the other 13% fall into the “Other” category.  I’d like to take a crack at interpreting the numbers.  Here are my thoughts on why IT projects are killed.

30% Business Needs Changed
From the time a project is first proposed until it is started, things have changed.  These are often projects tightly connected to cultural events.  For instance, your proposal for a new drive-through pharmacy may lose 7% of its expected revenue if the price of gas goes to $5.  Anything that tightly connected to consumer behavior must be watched closely.

23% Does Not Deliver As Promised
Oversell and hype.  Lots of people do it, and lots fall for it.  It always surprises me how pessimistic people are when investing money, but how easily they fall for a good story.  Almost a quart of the projects don’t live up to the promise.  But it’s not jsut hype that contributes to this number.  Sometimes people simply don’t realize how big a project is when they start it.  That’s understandable.

14% No Longer a Priority
This feels like reason #1.  Business needs change, and the project is no longer a priority.  But I suppose there other reasons a project may no longer be a priority: Can’t make money at it, Other solutions have arisen to replace it, Employees or customer have changed.  But still…  aren’t these all “business needs.”  If so, a full 44% are canceled just because “things change!”  Yikes!

13% Exceeds Budget
I expected this to be higher.  Most people I talk to go over budget on their projects.  That’s why they use products like Standard Time®.  They know they’ll be cancelled if they go over .  Well, maybe it’s doing its job!

7% Does not Support Business Strategy
This happens when unlearned individuals go off on exciting missions that the executives don’t support.  A project gets started, but killed soon after – once it’s discovered to be nonsense.  I’ve run into quite a few of these individuals.  But I don’t fault them; they try.  And that’s all the CEO really expects of them.