Projects go over time and over budget but deliver better value

IT projects are taking longer than planned and are running further over-budget, but are delivering better value to the business, early results from a major study reveal.

IT projects are taking longer than planned and are running further over-budget, but are delivering better value to the business, early results from a major study reveal.

Initial findings from the study by an Oxford-led team of international researchers, suggest organisations are prioritising the need for IT projects to deliver sound business benefits over the need to deliver on-time and to budget.

Click here to take part in the Oxford University/Computer Weekly project management study and receive a free copy of the preliminary findings.


The study, supported by Computer Weekly, compares the experiences of IT project managers in 2010 with project managers surveyed in a similar study in 2003.

On average IT projects are overrunning their budgets by 28%, compared to over-runs of only 19% in 2003, the research concludes. And the average overrun on project deadlines has risen from 13% in 2003 to 17% in 2010.

But todays IT projects are delivering significantly better business benefits than those of seven years ago, the research suggests.

IT projects in 2010 deliver 17% more than originally planned, the early results suggest, a sharp turnaround from 2003, when they were under-delivering by 7%.

Chris Sauer of Oxford University, who is leading the study, said that the preliminary results show that IT projects have become more aligned to the needs of the business.

"Today, we are seeing greater emphasis on achieving what the business wants," he said. "Which may account for delivery of greater scope than was initially planned. This in turn could lead to the greater budget and schedule overruns we have found."

The study shows that organisations are now favouring smaller IT projects than they were in the past. The average resource spent on a project in 2010 was 225 person-months, compared to 272 person-months in 2003.

"This reflects the trend towards smaller projects which have been promoted in recent years as more likely to be successful," said Blaze Reich, of the Simon Fraser University in Canada, one of the co-ordinators of the study.

The research team has collected data from UK-based IT project managers through the Computer Weekly web site.

"It is still early days," said Sauer, "We would like to hear from more project managers."


Take part in the survey

The survey remains open to Computer Weekly readers. If you are a manager of IT-enabled business change projects and you would like to share your experience with the research team, please click here. The survey takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

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