According to a Gartner study of more than 50 failed IT projects, unaddressed complexity in the business process was the main reason behind project failure.

But why else do projects fail? And how can you overcome common challenges to ensure project success? Here’s a blueprint for successful IT project management to follow.

Why IT projects fail

IT project managers that have witnessed failure in the past will usually build in more oversight with increased reporting to avoid it. But this isn’t necessarily the right path, as research has found that effective governance is a better focus of effort.

Other challenges that IT projects need to overcome include:

  • Insufficient internal expertise – Identify the technical expertise for the project in question and recruit accordingly.
  • Insufficient budget – Address the budget in your initial planning with a focus on resource allocation.
  • Poor vendor support – Choose vendors that will be with you from deployment to delivery.

Blueprint of a successful IT project management

Successful projects are generally dependent on three factors – internal and external expertise, an introspective organisational mindset and effective governance.

  • Governance – Don’t forget there’s a difference between governance and reporting. Increase your focus on outcomes and reduce the red tape.
  • Expertise – Project managers must have faith in their team’s ability. This isn’t limited to internal employees though; make sure external partners and vendors are up to the job.
  • Introspection – Businesses with successful IT projects are better at identifying their needs, allocating budgets properly and maintaining relationships with technology partners.

Preparing your IT project

Although every roadmap will differ, the following four categories must be part of any IT project planning stage.

  • Clearly define objectives – Make your objectives SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
  • Get executive support – Identify the specific business benefits your project will deliver backed up by data.
  • Implement the right methodology – From Agile to Waterfall, a lot will depend on your project’s complexity.
  • Recruit the right team – Don’t neglect technical skills, cultural fit and the attitude of partners and vendors as well as internal team members.

Reporting on your project

The metrics you use to measure success will depend on the specifics of your project, but are likely to include scope, schedule, budget, user up-take and ROI.

Just remember, success takes time and committing to continuous improvement will help you hit your goals.