Survey: Good and Bad IT Projects

According to the Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2014, good project performance is listed as one of the more important determinants of CIO success. The survey then provides some further detail on which factors related to project performance were most important, and especially which types of projects tend to be more successful.

The survey broke down IT project performance into several "aspects" or sub-segments that showed common success or trouble for CIOs across the survey. These "aspects" include "Project Delivery", and I will focus on that for this post.

For project delivery, the survey probed differences among several types of projects, including technical and infrastructure projects; apps, cloud and web site projects; and business transformation projects. Here is what the survey revealed, with my commentary on why:

Technical and infrastructure projects, according to the survey, are the best executed initiatives. More than a third of leaders in the 2014 survey reported that their infrastructure roll-outs have been ‘very successful’. this is interesting in light of where infrastructure fits into the continuum of IT projects. Infrastructure projects resemble, in many ways, construction projects. There is much more certainty wrapped around them, as opposed to implementation of new technologies or the development of applications, where you are not totally sure of what you are getting into.

Mobile apps, cloud and website projects also enjoyed impressive success rates, according to the survey. These projects tend to represent the cutting edge, where they support new processes that provide a very significant improvement over existing processes. Therefore, they may not be judged as harshly, as they have such high payback. They are like low-lying fruit, or in another analogy are like shooting at the broad side of a barn. It's hard to miss at this point in time of the evolution and maturity of this area.

Business transformation projects represented the worst performing group of projects, as reported by the survey. Barely ten per cent of IT leaders who implemented new digital marketing systems together with those who attempted ‘big data’ implementations reported high levels of success. Results for business transformation projects have the potential to be highly erratic. Thinking about the difference among these project types, the key difference with business transformation is that it is the least technical type of project. This can provide difficulty in determining the proper metrics and setting hard core goals for projects. In addition, it provides the opportunity for disagreement on whether the project was a success because of the shortage of these types of metrics, leaving the door open to criticism.

You can request of complete copy of the Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2014. See