Why do development projects fail?

success v failure

Why do development projects fail? And perhaps more importantly what do senior management need to understand about why they fail? Those are the questions that a new study from AI platform vFunction sets out to answer.

Based on a survey by Wakefield Research of 250 US software developers and architects, at a senior level within enterprises of 5,000 or more staff, it looks at the differences in goals, challenges and reasons for failure between business leaders and architects.

With 92 percent of respondents planning to or currently modernizing their apps, it finds modernization projects have proven complex, expensive and risky. Four out of five software and architecture leaders say they've had an app modernization effort fail along the way, with 74 percent of respondents saying that the typical application modernization effort costs $1M+, averaging nearly $1.5M.

Beyond the steep financial cost time is a factor. 58 percent of software and architecture leaders say the typical app modernization effort takes over a year, averaging 16 months per project -- and more than a quarter (27 percent) say it takes two years or more.

One of the biggest issues is that internal organizational struggles and misalignment between business and technology teams are putting app modernization efforts in peril before they start, to the point that 97 percent predict someone in their organization would push back on a proposed project. 43 percent of those who have seen app modernization failures blame expectations not being set correctly, while another 37 percent blame failure on required organizational structure changes.

Looking at software architects alone, they cite a 'lack of intelligent tools' as the number one reason for failure. The struggle with ineffective tools and the skills and training needed to modernize is a common theme amongst architect respondents, as 'too complex,' 'inadequate skills or training' and 'failure to accurately set expectations' all tied for the second most common reason for failure.

"Given the expense and length of these projects, it’s critical to understand why they are successful and why they fail; there is a lot on the line. The research reveals cost, risk, and complexity are all agreed-upon obstacles to modernization projects and 'lift and shift' is no longer considered a successful modernization outcome," says Moti Rafalin, CEO of vFunction. "Architects are keenly aware of the business benefits of these projects for the company and need the C-suite to understand why app modernization projects fail. They need the C-suite to align and train the team for success and help build the business case required to secure the budget and resources needed. Most importantly, architects need intelligent tools for the job."

The full report is available on the vFunction site.

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