IT Projects have rightly earned the reputation over the years as places where lots of money goes in and no value comes out. We are all aware of the CHAOS studies by the Standish Group that show most IT projects are also usually late, and a large number are never even completed(!).
How did this happen? My view is that, way back when, computers were first used to automate rote manual tasks, and the results from these projects were valuable and easily seen as so. This led to the belief that automating most anything was going to be good for the enterprise but, as projects moved into more complicated/complex aspects of the business, the returns of pure automation began to diminish. Unfortunately, it was still assumed that the value was there, and it was a complete assumption; actually determining what the value was to be was done only rarely.
Early computer projects really were run in the realm of the IT department, likely better known then as the Data Processing department. Business departments had been happy to get their worst drudge work automated, but the techie geek image of IT started at this time as well, so the business would deal with IT as little as possible to get what they wanted, but otherwise considered IT as being on another planet. In this environment, one idea about using computers could snowball into a big project if enough people liked it.
So, projects proceeded into more complicated areas of the business, and they started to break down, some failed, and now Management wanted to know why, and also started asking if all these computer projects were worth what they cost (because costs were not assumed, they were measurable).
But that is the history: all the easy automation projects have long been done.
Next time: how to choose the most valuable IT Projects…