Project Management Summit warned of cost of failed IT projects

Delayed or failed IT projects are costing Irish business and public sectors millions of Euro while the adoption of agile development is a solution for some but not all. This warning was made today at the PM Summit in Dublin by Terence O’Donnell, head of project management, Auxilion, part of Irish owned I.T. Alliance Group.

The importance of the topic was highlighted recently in a study by the PM Summit which found that nearly 20% of projects failed costing Irish companies on average €580,000.

“Many Irish organisations are now fully embracing the benefits of agile project management and dispensing with traditional methods. But there is a danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water,” said Mr O’Donnell, former professor of Project Management in UL and former president of the Irish PMI Chapter.

“Agile has a role to play but fundamentalist adoption of the methodology can be counterproductive in some circumstances and environments”

At the event he announced details of a new survey of top Irish project managers which found that 62% have reservations about agile techniques.

“While agile increases chances of success, we need to be aware that it’s not a silver bullet.”

He said that agile development had proven its worth across a range of technologies over past decades. For the first time it was included this year in the Project Management Institute’s PMBOK® – the recognised best practice guidelines for the management of projects.

Despite this growing acceptance, Mr O’Donnell warned that the traditional values of accountability, control and measurement could be at risk in some organisations if agile development is exclusively adopted as a default methodology for managing projects.

“Collaboration is all very well but to use a World Cup analogy, player control over team selection and tactics can lead to chaos.”

As part of his presentation, Mr O’Donnell announced the results of a survey of 50 senior project managers representing nearly 1,000 years of experience in the field. “The findings can be summed up in the title of my talk today which is ‘Agile is goodish’. Agile has a role to play but fundamentalist adoption of the methodology can be counterproductive in some circumstances and environments.”

The survey found that while 90% of project managers are more accepting of an agile approach, 62% still have reservations about agile techniques. Just one in two are comfortable in managing projects through agile.

Over half (56%) are reluctant to use agile as a default approach to managing projects. The survey found that nearly two thirds (64%) have not invested in getting certified in agile development.

PMBOK is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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