Why Digital Projects Fail

Published: 28/02/2022
Author: Vidatec

It must be galling for everyone concerned, but the simple truth is that many Digital projects fail. According to The Standish Group’s CHAOS survey, 84% of Digital projects fail to meet their objectives, with most running over cost, over time, or lacking promised functionality. Incredibly, 31% of IT investments were abandoned or cancelled.

Those are stark statistics, and something all CIOs and project managers must grapple with as they move to transform their businesses, building up their digital presence and making full use of new technologies.

Properly defined scope

There are several reasons why technical projects fail. Perhaps the most obvious one is that the scope of the project has not been properly defined in the first place. The project could be based around a single objective – for example, improve customer response – but that simple sentence may be open to all types of interpretation. Does it mean higher sales? Does it mean fewer sales, but of a higher value?  Does it mean gathering more detail from customers? Perhaps, it translates as more engagement on social media, or more repeat business. It could mean that sales stay the same but the cost per sale has gone down.

End-user experience

There are so many variables involved, but what can often produce uncertainty is that one arm of the business has one take, while another part has a completely different view. Allied to this can be a lack of input from the end-users of the project. Those setting the scope are not always cognisant of what the people affected by the changes want. These could be the staff within an organisation or the customers. Whatever the target audience, their needs must be taken into account at every stage of the process.

Working in silos

That leads to another cause of project failure, the inability to connect different business siloes. This is an inevitable consequence of the way that legacy IT has been handled, and is a problem that many companies are having to deal with – an issue that will affect many digital transformation projects.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen an increasing rise in the integration of different digital platforms. From the early beginnings when Apple put a small number of apps in its App Store, we’ve seen them become the must-have addition to digital strategies for nearly every business, from large multinationals to the local takeaway restaurant.

But, their use needs to be carefully considered, not launched without reference to the rest of the company. There are often failures when companies have tried to launch a new mobile app to support their business, but have merely seen it as a bolt-on tool, something that’s not connected to any other part of the business and other digital channels.

There are many reasons for this. It could be because it has been implemented by app designers who have not investigated what the customer actually wants or have not worked with the company closely enough to understand what is important – as we pointed out earlier, the scope of the project is all too often badly defined.

Design and discovery

How then should companies who want to implement a successful digital project go about it?

One of the first steps should be a design and discovery phase. This applies whether a company is starting from scratch or overhauling an existing portfolio. This should be about bringing all the key personnel together – that includes technical staff, sales and marketing, finance – all relevant departments in order to thrash out exactly what’s needed.

Here at Vidatec, we make sure that we work with all parts of the client’s business team, bringing in our own experts to make sure that all parts of the project are spot on. It’s about exploring detail in areas such as user personas and branding as well as the app and web design.

Don’t work in isolation

Any company wishing to undertake a successful digital project will have to bear in mind that nothing will work in isolation.  When launching an app, consider the overall impact that it would have on the entire organisation. It’s important that the image of the company, from the website, social media and the future metaverse, all reflect the same values and project the same image. 

So, any digital transformation should have those clear objectives in sight. There must be communication between the teams and all parts of the business. Any third parties involved in such a project should have clearly defined guidelines to work to and not be restricted by any siloed information. Most importantly of all, there must be feedback from the target audience, ensuring, first and foremost, that the project meets their needs. 

Don’t let your project be in the 80% of failures. Instead, speak to our experts today.