An overwhelming number of Information Technology (IT) projects experience persistent problems and failures. This chapter reflects on some of the important aspects of IT Project Management as applied to the implementation and post-implementation of Enterprise Information Systems and ERP applications. The proposition is based on the author’s professional experience as a system consultant, a manager and an educator. It also echoes some of the important findings of a major action research undertaken by the author over seven years, where he had a dual role as a project resource and a researcher, allowing him a first hand experience of enterprise applications issues and problems, culminating in a clear insight to why IT projects fail and how to overcome persisting inadequacies that lead to project failures. By investigating 25 major IT projects and analysing the variables that influence project performance, the research has successfully developed, tested and refined a hypothesised risk-based management model. With its components, processes, metrics and tools clearly defined and characterised, the Integrated Project-Risk Management (IPRM) model and system are presented as viable alternatives to conventional project management approaches and tools.
To establish a clear context of the research on hand and to prepare for a clear definition of the research question, scope and objectives was only possible through a comprehensive literature review of the relevant issues, the outcome of which is summarized as follows:
Information Technology is clearly an important industry and discipline, with far-reaching impact on all aspects of life. The discipline has accomplished milestones in terms of technology development, and indications are that its importance and widespread applicability will continue to expand, with increased IT investment in areas such as hardware infrastructure projects, software development and enterprise applications implementations. The literature emphasises the persisting issues of coping with the change associated with technology adoption and the definition of the role of IT in business and in relation to other disciplines.
The mishandling and mismanagement of IT projects is one of the main themes of the research. IT Projects are the vehicles for adopting, deploying, implementing or upgrading IT, and yet they are different from those of other disciplines, because of their environment, technical complexity, dynamic nature, relative uniqueness, strong impact on business processes, strong impact on business culture and users attitudes, varying stakeholders expectations and acceptability, interrelationships with other disciplines, and unproven return on investment (Anderson et al., 2002, Yeo 2002, Niazi et al., 2003, Westerveld 2003, Peterson et al., 2002; Ross 2003).
The literature has highlighted the unsatisfactory record of IT projects in terms of failure to be delivered on time and within budget, or to meet satisfactory scope and quality of deliverables (Flowers, 1996; Glass, 1997; Sauer, 1999; Cunningham, 1999; KPMG, 2002; Johnson et al., 2001; Standish 1995; Standish, 1998; Standish, 2004; Lemon et al., 2002). Many projects suffer from poor technical performance, system bugs, and data and security problems, and fail to improve the business or even to realise the sought benefits or returns on investment (McManus and Wood-Harper, 2003). Overall, IT projects are important, different, risky, and generally perceived as failures.