Business Insider reports "IBM Rips Into Bridgestone Over $600 Million Lawsuit"
Frank Buytendijk, vice president of research at Gartner Inc, at the firm's Business Intelligence Summit in London said "most organizations are not making better decisions now than they did five years ago."
Some months ago Bloomberg Personal Finance and many other websites reported "BMW Owners Vent Anger at Months-Long Wait for Spare Parts" relating to a SAP Warehouse implementation in which IBM was also involved.
Mark McDonald of Gartner reports "McKinsey Report Highlights Failure of Large Projects: why it is better to be small, particularly in IT"
What is notable about the above reports is that they all originate from
highly reputable international sources and relate to mainstream
products implemented in leading global corporations, clearly something
is not right!
The McKinsey report is interesting in that it recommends small projects
as being safer, seemingly oblivious to the reality that the
construction industry regularly successfully executes mega projects with
little fuss and consistently reliable outcomes.
I live less than a mile from one of many constructions sites on the £16
billion Crossrail project in London that is building a new railway line
end to end under London, billed as the largest construction project in
Europe at present. There is little fanfare but consistent reports
of steady and reliable progress and no indication of the sort of
problems experienced by Bridgestone and BMW.
No one is suggesting that Crossrail should be scaled down because big projects are difficult.
Crossrail also dwarfs the Bridgestone and BMW projects.
So what is going on?
On one hand engineers just get on and make things work, consistently,
reliably, day in and day out and we take it for granted that our roads,
railways, buildings, factories, etc will be built and will work.
Yes sometimes there are overruns but the level of failure that is at
epidemic proportions in the Business Information Systems arena is
entirely unthinkable. If engineering structures failed the way
Business Systems projects fail and under-perform we would all be living
in wattle and daub structures in the country and riding horses in order
to keep clear of the massive failure levels that characterize Business
What to do?
I am a Civil Engineer by training, schooled in the use of computers for
engineering applications, coupled to formal qualifications at the
Regimental Commander level in the Army Engineer Corps. As a
consequence of a series of unexpected events I found myself involved in
running projects to design and implement Business Information
Systems. In the process I gained experience in economics and in
general business management as well as working as a practicing
Professional Engineer for a number of years.
As I gained more experience with business computer systems I concluded
that the business information systems industry lacked engineering rigour
and that there was an opportunity to "bring the disciplines of
engineering to the business systems industry".
I have been on that journey since 1989 and, in the process have learned a huge amount about what works and what does not work.
Because I had the benefit of never being exposed to the methods and
thinking of the business information systems industry, I developed my
methods from a first principles engineering perspective built on the
fundamentals of the application of computers in rigorous engineering
practice and self-taught business computer software design and
The result has been that my methods are significantly different and my
world view of business computer systems is also different and, since
they are based on deeply ingrained engineering disciplines and practical
experience, I hold them to be better as well.
In 1990, having started out in business for my own account I rapidly
came to understand that many IT projects, as we called them then, were
failing, in fact about 70% were never commissioned and only about 10%
actually met expectations. Statistics which the Bridgestone, BMW,
McKinsey and many other examples suggest are unchanged or worse
today. I started to speak about these statistics at conferences
and found myself called in to investigate failed and sub-optimal
projects and at times, turn them around. Accordingly I built up a
considerable body of experience.
In 2003 I analyzed all this information and developed what I termed
"The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success", I
developed a course and wrote a book which is available on my website
Since then I have continued to consult and present courses with regard
to these principles. I have also gained considerable hands-on
practical experience in the application of these factors.
Recently I have refreshed the fundamental analysis.
This article is the first of a series of articles in which I plan to
share the different facets of this approach and, I hope, afford you the
opportunity to take a fresh and better look at the way you relate to
business information systems.
Whether projects or your existing operations.
The Factors for Success comprise two elements, the factors that cause
failure that must be managed out of the project and the factors for
success that must be managed in. Managing the factors causing
failure is, I suggest for your consideration, one of the key
differentiators in what is being discussed here.
In this article I will give the headlines and then in the series of
articles which I plan for you to receive in the months ahead I will
discuss these components in more detail and give guidelines on how to
manage them in order to achieve high value outcomes. Articles in
other threads that I intend to publish will elaborate on some of these
themes as, for example, the thread relating to Strategic Essence that I
started publishing recently.