A Practical Approach for IT Governance

A massive IT Project Failure?

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BloomThe blame game in project failures continues.  Historically, on larger IT projects (exceeding $15 million) about half are over budget and roughly half deliver less functionality.  If you look at the failure of the $100 Million student data project funded by the Gates Foundation, there are many lessons to be learned.   The purpose was noble – use student individualized educational data to streamline the education process.  The reasons given are that it failed because of politics and not related to the project approach.

The most obvious one, not mentioned in the analysis is the lack of “experimental innovation” i.e. small connected projects versus one big data collection approach chosen by inBloom, the company funded to implement the data collection project. A simpler, less costly and easier to adopt approach would have been to use existing well defined tests (propagated through contests) to identify individualized education that targets each student.  This was the approach we followed with great success at the Braille Institute on a Federal grant significantly smaller than the Gates funded research.

A second reason is failing to take into account the challenges of change management.  Tools are an enabler of change, but change management can only be effective if the user needs are well understood and identified early in the project.

There are perhaps many more reasons for the project’s failure such size and scope being too large, but the lack of small incremental projects seems to be strongest reason for the failure of this large project.


Written by Subbu Murthy

July 12, 2014 at 9:50 pm

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