Poor system specification in the design and planning phases is responsible for two-thirds (66%) of IT project failures, while a lack of internal skills is the cause for just 27 per cent.

A newly released survey commissioned by IT consultancy Avanade and undertaken by researcher Coleman Parkes to understand the UK’s attitude towards the value of technology showed that people are seldom the weakest link in IT project failure.

It found UK businesses are being let down by a lack of upfront and adequate definitions of technical and business requirements, design criteria and descriptions.

Other reasons cited for IT project failure included poor business understanding (51%), poor selection of technology (39%), lack of funds (24%) and too little time spent on development (22%).

Over 100 participating senior IT and operations managers of the UK’s largest businesses (with more than 10,000 users) across a range of sectors also provided information on the point at which systems typically fail: 34% of projects failed during implementation, with a further 15% failing during the transition to the new system. Just 12% failed post-transition or during regular operations, 26% failed during the design stage and 13% failed while they were being planned.

Brent Kronenberg, Avanade director of Enterprise Service Solutions said: “Large enterprises make massive investments in IT projects because they form the infrastructure that enables the business to move forward and grow. If projects are failing because the proper planning and specification processes are not in place, this must be addressed: too much is at stake for 61 per cent of projects to be failing during or after the implementation.” He advised that IT projects should be based on proven methodologies from the outset, with requirements being checked throughout the project’s lifecycle, so that any system problems can be spotted and corrected quickly.