The management of UK IT projects is improving and is better than previously thought, according to exclusive research commissioned by Computer Weekly.
The Computer Weekly Project/ Programme Management Survey was carried out by Chris Sauer and Christine Cuthbertson of Oxford University's Templeton College and was sponsored by change management consultancy the French Thornton Partnership.
The survey of 1,500 IT project managers across the UK in all industry sectors found that just 16% of IT projects hit their targets on budget, schedule and scope.
However, many more only narrowly missed their targets. Sauer said, "We found that 55% of projects come within 5% of their schedule, within 5% of scope and 4% of budget."
Evidence of the success of IT projects will be welcomed in IT departments across the UK as company boards demand new IT projects deliver a rapid return on investment.
Steady improvements in the performance of IT projects could save the economy billions of pounds, said Sauer.
"If project cost can be reduced by a quarter across industry and government, and £100bn is invested in IT, it would save the economy £25bn a year," he added.
The performance of UK IT projects in the survey showed a marked improvement when compared with IT projects surveyed by the Standish Group in 1995.
The influential Standish report found that the average variance for a project meeting a schedule was 102%, for meeting a budget it was 75%, and for scope it was 67%. More projects were abandoned in 1995 (31%) compared with the 9% found by Computer Weekly's research.
"The performance of IT projects in this survey is the best set of numbers I have ever seen," said Sauer. "The projects meet objectives more consistently and miss targets by less."
The most likely reason for the improvements was the trend for organisations to break IT projects up into smaller parts, making them easier to manage, said Sauer.
Another reason was better management of projects by IT professionals.