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Most IT Projects Finish Late, Overrun Budgets

Each year since 1994, a research firm called the Standish Group has interviewed thousands of IT people to find out how their projects are going. The results are fascinating, if a little bit scary.

According to Standish Group's 2004 CHAOS report, only 29 percent of IT projects were completed on time and on budget last year. About 53 percent of projects were classified as "challenged" -- either late or over budget -- and 18 percent of projects failed completely (either terminated before completion or delivered and never used).

Currently, I'm working on a story for our June 9 Affordable IT section that discusses the budget aspect of this equation. In a nutshell, we've found that most IT projects are budgeted in the dark -- IT people often are uncertain as to how long their projects will take or how much they will cost. Part of the problem is that business unit managers are not always honest about the scope of the project, but there is a lot of guessing about the technical aspects as well.

What's frustrating is that most of these projects are not new -- they've been done many times before at other companies. But each company must reinvent the wheel, because vendors seldom give out reliable nformation about the time and resources required to implement a particular technology. The IT industry truly needs a place to share information about project experiences, even anonymously, to help guide enterprises on time and budget requirements. If there was more data available about other companies' experiences with a particular project, it would be easier for enterprises to build accurate budgets and schedules for similar projects.