IT Projects have rightly earned the reputation over the years asplaces where lots of money goes in and no value comes out. We are allaware of the CHAOS  studies by the Standish Group that show most ITprojects are also usually late, and a large number are never evencompleted(!).

How did this happen? My view is that, way back when, computers werefirst used to automate rote manual tasks, and the results from theseprojects were valuable and easily seen as so. This led to the beliefthat automating most anything was going to be good for the enterprisebut, as projects moved into more complicated/complex aspects of thebusiness, the returns of pure automation began to diminish.Unfortunately, it was still assumed that the value was there, and itwas a complete assumption; actually determining what the value was tobe was done only rarely.

Early computer projects really were run in the realm of the ITdepartment, likely better known then as the Data Processing department.Business departments had been happy to get their worst drudge workautomated, but the techie geek image of IT started at this time aswell, so the business would deal with IT as little as possible to getwhat they wanted, but otherwise considered IT as being on anotherplanet. In this environment, one idea about using computers couldsnowball into a big project if enough people liked it.

So, projects proceeded into more complicated areas of the business,and they started to break down, some failed, and now Management wantedto know why, and also started asking if all these computer projectswere worth what they cost (because costs were not assumed, they weremeasurable).

But that is the history: all the easy automation projects have long been done.

Next time: how to choose the most valuable IT Projects…

David Wright