IT Project Value vs. Waste – Now in “Real Time”!

Yesterday I posted about my findings reviewing IT project failure reports, how they compared around the world, and within the United States. Today, I wanted to put those numbers into perspective.

It’s very easy to look at the massive numbers individual countries are racking up in project waste, and say, “those numbers are irrelevant to me.” The numbers are so large, and so unrelated to day-to-day work that it’s easy to stay detached from them.

But what if we could drive the numbers home a little bit more? Would it change the way we feel about project waste? Would it help us to build strategies specifically designed to minimize waste (as opposed to saying, “well that’s just the cost of doing business”)?

Assuming the proportions in the data from the reports I reviewed yesterday apply to any medium to large company in the United States, it’s not hard to create a real time simulation. Take a look at the chart below and imagine these proportions reflect what’s happening in your organization right now.

Real Time Simulation: Value Kept vs. Money Wasted on IT Projects in the USA

Sources: Roger Sessions’ “IT Complexity Crisis” and Standish Group’s “2009 Chaos Report”

Click here for a white paper on how I calculated the data for the chart.

While this picture is somewhat dreadful, it doesn’t have to be this way at your company. Over the next few days I’ll talk more about my thoughts on Mr. Sessions’ white paper and the Standish Group’s Report. Most importantly, I’ll give my thoughts on how you can minimize the amount of project waste at your company.

In the meantime, sit back, and watch the picture unfold!

Like this graph and how pretty the colours are? Hate this graph because of what it suggests? Let everyone know what you’re thinking in the comments section below! And if you’d like to see more weird analysis from time to time, please subscribe to get free updates by e-mail or RSS!

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I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
  • A suggestion on how to make the “wasted project dollars” figure more meaningful: show us how this money could have been put to better use. As you write, the number are so large that we're challenged to attach real meaning and significance to them. Thanks for the posts on this; the data is terrifying (if not surprising).

  • It's not easy being green.

    Great Series.

  • Hehe thank you my friend! 🙂

  • Thanks for that Walt. I kind of ran out of steam towards the end of the series. I did another follow up to this one but after that just had to put it to bed. LOL Math is hard! LOL

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