Home The Most Important Things Customers, Vendors and Consultants Need to Do to Reduce IT Project Failure

The Most Important Things Customers, Vendors and Consultants Need to Do to Reduce IT Project Failure

We talked to Michael Krigsman, the CEO of Asuret and writer of the IT Project Failures blog, about why IT projects fail and what can be done about it. Krigsman says there is no “magic bullet” for ensuring success or preventing failure but there are some common mistakes that can be avoided.

Customers, consultants, and vendors form The Devil’s Triangle. These are the three parties that are a part of every major software deployment. Each has got to get its part of the deployment process right or the whole thing will be a bust. Krigsman told us the most crucial things each party needs to get right and gave some advice on how each party can reduce the chances of project failure.


First of all, Krigsman says customers need to know why they are doing the project. He says customers often see enterprise IT projects as different from normal business projects but that customers shouldn’t view technology projects differently. Like any other project, IT projects have a budget and need a plan, a clear set of goals and a clear idea of the expected benefit.

To improve the project planning process, Krigsman suggests that customers take a hard look at what could go wrong early in the process. He says denial is a serious issue for many enterprise customers. He has written about this subject before in a post called “The twin evils of IT gridlock and denial.” Krigsman wrote:

Project progress continues, despite lack of consensus. In denial situations, the team does not address disagreements, agreeing to wait until sometime in the future to resolve open issues. Problems then simmer below the surface only to “unexpectedly” erupt later, usually in more severe form.

Customers need to add conflict resolution into the earliest stages of the planning process.

System Integrators and Other Professional Services Providers

Krigsman says system integrators and other professional services providers need to remember to put customer’s interests first and foremost.

Krigsman suggests one way consultants can improve customer’s projects: demand clarity from the customer, especially at the start of a project. “System integrators should view project efficiency as a worthy goal, even if they make less money in the short run,” Krigsman says. Making sure your customers have a clear idea of what they want done will help you over the life of the project.

There’s a benefit for consultants here too, though: “Some customers take unfair advantage of their integrator during the initial bid process by pretending that a poorly planned project is well defined,” Krigsman wrote.


Meanwhile, Krigsman says vendors need to do a better job of simplifying products and educating the customer so that the customer can make wise technology decisions regarding their product.

Krigsman suggests that vendors could tie sales compensation to successful project outcomes. A sales representative would be rewarded not just for the size of a sale but for the customer’s success in implementing the project. This would discourage sales people from doing pointless upselling and incentivize customer education.

Perhaps other teams, such as engineering and product management, could be similarly compensated to bring all parties on the vendor side into alignment?

It’s All About the Long Run

The common theme seems to be that each part of the Devil’s Triangle needs to focus on the long-term. Customers need to consider problems and solve disputes before spending money on a project. Vendors and consultants need to prioritize their reputation and the success of their customers over short-term sales and billings. It sounds simple when put that way, but it’s always easier said than done.

For some examples of what not to do, check out Biggest ERP Failures of 2010, which includes commentary from Krigsman.

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