IT Project Failure Rates Continue Apace

Ashby Bachmann Inc. has been reporting on this phenomenon for more than thirty years, citing public and private-sector research, from Gartner, Auditors General across Canada and around the globe, and experience in our own practice.In 2018, the McKinsey Center for Government did a survey of 3,000 public officials across 18 countries and found that 80 per cent of public sector transformations fail to meet their objectives.

The most recent statistics, from the Queensland (Australia) Audit Office identify the following:

Based on current spending data, the Government of Queensland has $A1.6 billion invested in around 116 existing active projects. Of those projects, 38% of them have requested additional funding increases, and 53% are currently operating on extended timelines.

Perhaps things are getting better!   But then cost overruns and time delays are only two of many measures of failure.

Perhaps, the private sector is doing better. But our experience suggests otherwise. The underlying causes of IT project failures in the public sector mirror those of the private sector. And, all too often, the major systems developers and systems integrators failing to successfully deliver major projects are identical in both sectors. Indeed, the size and global dominance in the field may correlate with the rate of failure.[i]

In 2013 we commented on statistics available from numerous sources (See below). That article can be found on our blog. In it, we identify a well-proven solution to project failures. Ashby Bachmann introduced the concept of Project Health-Checks to the NSW government in 2002, averting the failure of a highly politicized multi-faceted project with a key IT component.

However, we have performed more forensic audits of failed multi-million dollar projects than we have health-checks.

Post-failure litigation is still more common than pre-failure remediation. Go figure!

A Long History of Failures

IT projects are well-known for having failure rates of more than 50%…

80% of projects are late, over budget, lacking in functionality or never delivered

– Gartner Group, May 2000

Few organizations have achieved the value they expected from their ERP investments

–  Accenture, February 2003


Big four consulting firm sues big four bank for $38 million. Bank considers counter-suit.

–  Financial Review 24 May 2002

[i] Andrew Colley Oct 2007

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