Missing Questions

By Donald Sears Print this article Print

Is terminating a project a waste of the efforts already exerted? Or is it an evolution of mature information technology practices? Based on the survey findings of one IT governance organization, the answer depends on whom you ask.

Missing Questions

Are there more facets the ISACA survey could have explored?

“The question the survey doesn’t ask is the point at which they pulled the plug,” says Bill Hayduk, president of RTTS, a New York City-based software quality assurance company. “These projects could have been killed at the inception stage, which could make sense,” Hayduk asserts. “But if they were killed at the implementation stage, that is very different.

“IT is being driven by business more than it was before the Internet bubble. Talk to CIOs or CTOs: They’re all reporting to the business units. Rarely are they undertaking things that the business isn’t driving.”

Hayduk points out that compliance and governance are not necessarily deemed mission-critical unless mandated by government or industry, or are part of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

“Perhaps [the ISACA survey respondents] are dealing with network policy projects or application security—the kinds of projects that are regularly put on the back burner,” he says. “But when they have to have, say, a new trading system that is crucial to the business, that will take priority.”

Ernst & Young’s Damianides raises another question: “If the business needs changed, why wasn’t the project being better evaluated as it went along? The question that arises is, ‘Are organizations managing the how of the project?’”

The economy might be another factor. However, in the ISACA survey, the budget cutbacks number came in at less than 1 percent.

“If we were to ask these same questions six months from now, I would expect to see budget cutbacks having a much higher presence due to the economy,” says Damianides.

“We’re seeing some slowdown in our clients’ internal projects,” reports Hayduk of RTTS. “But we don’t ever see a complete withdrawal of a project in large software development.”

What can be extrapolated from the survey numbers is that IT is being driven more directly by business needs, and that the technology organization has to live with the review process, priority changes and early project death. But IT is learning from these experiences.

“This [killing of projects] is an important intermediary step,” says Weider of Ministry Health Care. “Many IT organizations like mine are spending a lot of time performing autopsies on dead projects in order to refine our IT project methodology.”

The goal? To identify any problem projects quickly before too much time and money is invested in them

This article was originally published on 2008-07-30
Donald Sears is Online Editor for Baselinemag.com.
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