Mission Impossible? Exploring the Limits of Managing Large IT Projects and Ways to Cross the Line

AbstractFor decades much effort has been made to improve project management capabilities. Still, the failure rate remains high, especially for large IT projects. Our postmortem analysis of 15 large IT projects of the Swiss Federal Administration, with an accumulated loss of one billion U.S. dollars, shows that while project management deficits account for some of the failures, project failure is primarily caused by poor project governance capabilities. Based on insights gained from the initial failure analysis, the Swiss Federal Government decided to assess all its large IT projects based on our co-designed framework. Meanwhile, also private companies have assessed IT projects applying our framework. As a consequence, valuable discussions and measures have been initiated and sporadically projects were stopped. The data gained by these assessments will allow to identify patterns that promise to be a reference for governance actors and bodies what information to ask for, when to intervene, and how.


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