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What percentage of IT projects fail? [#ChartOfTheDay]

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 05 Oct, 2016
Essential Essential topic

Digital marketing systems, CRM roll-out and Big Data project failure rates exceed 50%

Long ago, before the World Wide Web (yes such a time does exist, it was in the late 1980s, early 1990s), I worked as an IT project manager managing teams building marketing systems for clients and packaged solutions used worldwide. So IT project failure is still 'close to my heart', particularly since now with my focus on digital marketing we hear that many project failures occur raising questions about the Return on Marketing Technology (RoMT). For example, you hear shocking statistics like these bandied about:

They're certainly shocking and raise HUGE questions about the way marketing technology is procured and implemented today. Yet we need to be careful about their validity. As Venture Beat points out in its article behind the 70% failure statistic above, they are often based around spurious surveys and can be plain misleading. Venture Beat, in their 2015 report on Return on Marketing technology, present an analysis based on thousands of respondents which shows a very different picture:

"With a high level of confidence, between 1.47 percent and 5.73 percent of marketing technology implementations fail to provide a return on investment over a 3.5-year life cycle. It might not sound as sexy and compelling as “70 percent fail” … but at least it is the reality".

How do IT failure rates differ for different types of project?

Which brings us to the current Chart of the Day from a reliable source, which shows a much lower, but certainly not negligible failure rates, which raises questions about how marketing technology projects are managed:

IT project failure rates

The chart shows that the majority of certain types of projects are rated as successful. For example using cloud services, new websites or CMS or collaboration systems. However, many can be judged a failure since fewer than 50% are judged to be successful including:

  • 58% failure of digital marketing systems
  • 59% of CRM systems
  • 62% of ERP roll-outs
  • 63% of Big data projects

What do you think? I think these are truly shocking, particularly since this report surveyed CIOs who might be more likely to give a positive spin on projects that their colleagues 'in the business' or 'in marketing'. I suspect these project failure figures would be higher if others were sampled.



Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

This blog post has been tagged with:

Return on Marketing Technology (RoMT)

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