Blue Hill is conducting research on technology Implementation Fundamentals to better understand the factors that cause technology projects to fail or succeed. If you haven’t taken it, your answer to five questions will help us to identify the challenges that most often cause organizations to misunderstand the value of their investments.
This research is still ongoing, but a peek into the early results provides an observation about how well organizations are able to predict the impact of their technology investments (Figure 1). Fifty-four percent (54%) of study participants indicated that their most recent technology implementation met project goals. In other words, organizations are able to correctly forecast how an implementation will affect business a little more than half the time. That’s not much better than a “coin flip.”
Figure 1: Performance Impact of Most Recent Technology Implementation
Source: Blue Hill Research, November 2013
Encouragingly, in 71% of the cases, projects met or exceeded project goals. While these situations are generally better for the organization, they still constitute problems in investment planning. Even when results are better than expected, it indicates that the organization still misunderstood how the investment would affect performance. Of course, few will complain when an implementation provides more value than expected. Nonetheless, these sorts of misjudgments cause organizations to fail to properly allocate resources and priorities. Underestimating the impact of a solution also can result in decisions to forgo investment, causing organizations to miss opportunities.
The more concerning takeaway from Figure 1 is that when companies misjudge the impact of an implementation, the ultimate impact falls below the mark more often than above. Seventeen percent (17%) of implementations exceeded project goals. Just as often, the improvement falls below expectations. In another 12% of cases, the investment caused performance to worsen or made no change at all.
Blue Hill will return to these findings as it completes its Technology Fundamentals research. If these results remain consistent, they will paint a story about organizations’ ability to successfully predict the impact of technology. Any given investment has a roughly fifty-fifty chance of providing the value forecasted. This failure to predict accurately will mean one project in ten is a wholly wasted investment, with no impact or negative impact.
In part, this is not a problem of technology assessment, but project execution. The challenges that emerge in the course of an implementation can play a major role in eroding the impact of a deployment. As we complete our research, Blue Hill will isolate the most common challenges organizations encounter as well as the challenges that most often correlate to project failure.