Blog / The Standish Group report 83.9% of IT projects partially or completely fail

The Standish Group report 83.9% of IT projects partially or completely fail

Does your IT project have what it takes? Learn what factors you need for success

The original Standish report was published in 1994 and has been updated a number of times. Standish and other groups have published additional reports shedding more light on other factors with IT projects.

According to Standish only 16.2% of projects were deemed successful by being completed on time and budget, with all the promised functionality. A majority of projects, or 52.7%, were over cost, over time, and/or lacking promised functionality. That leaves 31.1% to be classified as failed, which means they were abandoned or cancelled.

It is useful to review the top factors found in each of the three project classifications.


The top five factors found in successful projects are:

  1. User involvement
  2. Executive management support
  3. Clear Statement of Requirements
  4. Proper planning
  5. Realistic expectations

These factors should be put on a checklist for anyone considering an IT project, whether large or small. While risk rises with size and complexity, even simple projects can fail if the participants do not have clarity on these five principles.


The top five indicators found in challenged projects are:

  1. Lack of user input
  2. Incomplete Requirements & Specifications
  3. Changing Requirements & Specifications
  4. Lack of executive support
  5. Technical incompetence

This list adds a few variables that didn’t show up in the first list, namely changing requirements and specifications, and technical incompetence – two more things to watch out for. If you see change orders coming out of a project, you can be assured the risk has risen substantially. Technical competence means you need to confirm the necessary skills and not just give elements of the projects to internal people because they are enthusiastic and seem bright.


All of the top factors found in failed projects include:

  1. Incomplete Requirements
  2. Lack of user involvement
  3. Lack of resources
  4. Unrealistic expectations
  5. Lack of executive support
  6. Changing Requirements & Specifications
  7. Lack of planning
  8. Didn’t need it any longer
  9. Lack of IT management
  10. Technical illiteracy

You could write a book with lots of interesting stories coming out of this list. For example, we worked with an organization where requirements were carefully reviewed in group sessions and documented. When the ERP implementation project began, ownership decided to include a second company with a totally different sales and manufacturing process. It went live but it was challenged by both time and cost. In another project one staff member boldly stated the new system was “going in over his dead body.” Executive sponsorship meant we just went up the ladder and the project proceeded without any more hostility.

Other projects start without complete requirements because the customer is too impatient to hit a certain date or won’t sit down long enough to confirm the details. Surprises don’t help anyone. If too many new requirements come up during the interviews or implementation phase, park them in the parking lot and come back to them in one or more future phases. You are better off getting the core system running well and then implementing incremental change.

If you would like to find out more about how to run a successful project or see how we use scalable project management methodology from our PMP-certified project process to handle small or large implementations, please contact us.


*Did you catch our recent blog about the potential ROI on having free ERP system upgrades? The advantages include significant gains and less disruption to your business. Read all about it here.