Beating scope creep, the scourge of IT projects

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This article originally appeared on WSJ.com's CIO Journal

Every year, companies invest hundreds of billions of dollars in large IT projects that fail to deliver on their promises. More than 60% of the IT projects conducted in 2010 fell short of their goals, according to Standish Group, either because they were late, over budget or didn’t have the promised features. Some are poorly planned; sometimes IT chooses the wrong vendors. Often executives don’t fully realize that these efforts are as much about transforming the organization and its operations as they are about swapping in new technology. They may lose sight of the project’s business goals or neglect to pick top-notch leaders with enough clout to motivate change.

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Whatever the reasons, these costly failures remain among the toughest challenges facing CIOs and the businesses they help manage. Repeated disappointments undermine the credibility of IT and threaten the career prospects of IT leaders.

No single approach can guarantee success, but leading companies typically get five important things right. Proper setup, for example, includes choosing the right talent, especially leaders with the authority to deliver success. A well-planned rollout is also key, along with a plan for measuring uptake and benefits delivered by the new system. And, of course, no transformation succeeds without the guidance of a disciplined and smooth-running program management organization that can make sure critical milestones are met.

Read the full article at WSJ.com's CIO Journal (subscription required).