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How To Prevent Project Failure
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Information systems and technologies play a significant role in organizations and often get developed for various reasons, depending on the particular requirements of the users and the business in general. The development of these systems gets encountered by different challenges, human errors and mistakes that may lead to project failure. This paper examines various factors that result to project failure and the preventative measures of each of the factors.
Information systems and technologies play a significant role in organizations and often get developed for various reasons, depending on the particular needs of the users and the business in general. These systems include transaction processing systems, office automation and knowledge work systems, executive support systems, and Management information and decision support systems (Shelly & Rosenblatt, 2011). During systems development, it is vital for systems developers and experts to put into consideration all factors that may result in project failure. It ensures that the project gets completed on time and results in a high-quality product that not only meets the demands of the users and business but also has the features to solve the intended problem.
Project failure is simply the non-fulfillment of objectives and goals that got set at the beginning of a project. Kusek, 2013 states that failures often occur in three scenarios that are the happening of an unexpected event, failure to happen of an expected event, and happening of an event that did not get considered.
A system gets defined as a collection of components that function together with the aim of achieving a set objective. The objective of a well-designed system requires that actual output should get produced after the processing of the appropriate input. It should also have the element of control to provide feedback so as to attain the desired purpose. T o develop a high-quality product it’s vital to follow a structured, phased approach to developing and maintain the system.
Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
SDLC model gets defined as a set of iterative phases used to plan, analyze, design, execute, and maintain systems. The application of an SDLC model results to high-quality products and minimizes the possibility of project failure since it is a systematic process with defined activities at each stage (Shelly & Rosenblatt 2011; Remenyi, 2010). The phases, the common causes of project failure in each stage and preventative measures get outlined below. The phases are planning, design, implementation, and testing (Liberto, 2003).
The planning stage involves investigating and gathering of the business requirements, undertaking the feasibility study, and the reviewing to streamline the identified business requirements. Feasibility studies and early discussions with the management and other people requesting a project is among the most proper defenses against initiating projects that have high failure probability (Kendall & Kendall, 1999). It is important for an organization and project developers to undertake a comprehensive feasibility study so as to eliminate problems associated with the misunderstanding of the nature of the problem, poor technology choice, and reduced benefits and costs estimation. The lack of planning during the installation of a system is likely to result in high user dissatisfaction and often lead to system disuse (Kendall, & Kendall, 2010)
The design phase involves the translation of the deliverables from the planning phase into system design plan. Software developers use a variety of design processes and methods to build models according to business specifications. The use of ineffective or no formal design method may lead to a long development and implementation process and also the failure to build systems according to specifications (Works, 1995). These failures may finally result to project failure. For an organization to avoid these failures it is essential to select an appropriate design method and to categorize the system into its appropriate type (that is real-time, distributed, web-based, or ERP).
Developing the system’s software that involves writing programs consumes large portions of the project time and resources. Organizations should devote much focus into this phase as it can be the biggest single component of almost systems development. The role of the systems analyst in this phase is managing the programming phase and designing tests to get performed in the proposed system. Most of the activity in this phase gets undertaken by the programmers; however they are not the main contributors to project failure in this phase. The main causes of project failure in this phase are flaws and mistakes in analysis, design, or project management (Dennis, et. al. 2014). It is the responsibilities of the project manager to effective manage the programming process, by coordinating all the tasks, assigning the programming tasks, and managing the programming schedule.
The implementation phase involves the training and education of users on how to operate the proposed system. Project failures in this phase are as a result of inappropriate development tools, bugs in development tools and that lack of know how to use the tools by the personnel (Remenyi, 2010). So as to avoid project failure, the organization should use suitable development tools and adequately train its employees on how to use the new system. The transition process of a business from an old system to the new system should address all business, technical, and people issues so as to ensure the success of the project.
Inadequate testing is a major contributor to project failure (Dennis, et.al. 2005). So as to avoid project failure, it’s essential for the project team to undertake adequate testing so as to ascertain whether the new system functions properly to solve the future problem and meets the goals outlined in the planning phase. The various tests that should get undertaken on a new system include unit tests, system tests, integration tests, and acceptance tests.
Unqualified Systems Analyst
The systems analyst plays a crucial role in the development of a system. Dennis, et. al. 2014 states that the systems analyst is a significant person in the SDLC model, as s/he is responsible for analyzing the business situation, identifying opportunities for improvements, and designing the system that is to execute those improvements. Thus, to avoid project failure it is necessary for the users and organization to select an individual with excellent qualities of a systems analyst. The analyst should aim to build a system that creates and adds value to an organization rather than a wonderful system. A system that creates and adds value to an organization translates to increased profits in the business. The systems analyst should also involve the end-users of the system during its development as there is an opportunity for feedback resulting in user satisfaction. The systems analyst should work closely with the project team through the entire development process as this leads to the development of a suitable system in an efficient method. Shelly & Rosenblatt (2011), states that successful developers of information systems are good communicators who possess strong analytical and critical thinking skills. So as to prevent project failure, an organization should source for a systems analyst who has vast knowledge and experience in using techniques like modeling, prototyping, and computer-aided systems engineering tools for planning, designing and executing systems.
Inappropriate project coordination with external partners and stakeholders during the project development is a major contributor to project failure (Works, 1995). Some of the project partners include IT service providers, IT technology providers, and external business partners. Among the coordination activities in a project include alignment of systems expectation among the partners and ensuring availability of accurate project information and documentation to partners. An organization should identify all external partners who in some way shall be part of the development, implementation and post-implementation of the system and adequately involve them in the systems development (Works, 1995).
Inadequate technology evaluation
The lack of proper assessment of technology to use in project development leads high customer dissatisfaction, poor quality product, and lots of resources and time get wasted in the process (Works, 1995). It is vital for a project team to weigh on available technologies and select the most suitable technology for the system.
Lack of formal project risks assessment
Project risk assessment should properly get integrated into the system development from the onset and during the development process. It ensures that difficulties get identified and solved early in advance before significantly affecting the system development.
Ignoring early warning signs
When the project team ignores early warning signs of project failure, the project is likely to collapse during the development, implementation, or post-implementation stage. Early warning signs should get addressed as soon as they get identified to minimize the risk of failure.
Systems assist greatly in the functioning and operations of an organization. Hence, the systems development process is quite significant. Sabotaging a project success may result in losses in a business and also the loss of time and resources invested in the systems development. It is important that organizations, project teams, project managers, users, and systems analyst take into consideration of the various causes of project failures so as to avoid project failures. The SDLC model should get correctly applied, expert systems analyst should get consulted, proper technology evaluation should get undertaken, an adequate risk assessment should get made, and consideration of early warning signs so as to ensure project success.
Dennis, A., Wixom, B. H., & Roth, R. M. (2014) Systems analysis and design; John Wiley & Sons p. 301 - 413
Dennis, A., Wixom, B. H. & Tegarden, D. P. 2005 Systems analysis and design with UML version 2.0: an object-oriented approach; Edition 2: John Wiley & Sons
Kendall, K. E. & Kendall, J. E. 1999 Systems Analysis and Design; edition 4: Prentice Hall
Kendall, K. E., & Kendall, J. E. (2010) Systems analysis and design;
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