“10 Reasons Why Projects Fail to Create ROI”

by Blake D. Craig

Why do so many online initiatives fail to achieve projected results? Were project goals unrealistic or evaluation metrics difficult to measure? Were critical success factors misunderstood or underestimated? Was there a shift in the market segment or a change in user behaviors? 

In today’s knowledge economy, finding online technology solution providers appears to be an easy task. New solutions and emerging technologies barrage the corporate environment, promising successful results through the incorporation of additional features. As competition has grown, providers have positioned themselves in a perpetual “features” war. This focus has drawn attention away from core competency and instead focused on differentiation through additional complexity. Unfortunately, this paradigm has resulted in solutions that fail to meet business objectives or to promote bottom-line growth. What providers and buyers have failed to recognize is that solutions are only as good as they are usable.

On paper, sales sheets and marketing directives align features with needs. Functionally, these solutions deliver. Unfortunately, the manner in which these solutions are delivered does not satisfy even the most basic requirements of usability.   To effectively deliver solutions that achieve measurable results, a deep understanding of the target population, corporate user, or end client is essential. 

Effective solutions require more than a mere understanding of need. Effective solutions require a proven understanding of the end user and are built in response to the end user’s behavioral mannerisms. Successful online initiatives adapt to their users, creating familiar, usable environments that pay off all the way down to the bottom line.

Top 10 Negative Influencers:

  1. Initiative guided by features and benefits
    1. Having more features does not mean a better solution
    2. Features need to considered in application towards the end-user
    3. Reducing the number of features often results in better results
    4. Focus on core competency
  2. Personal agendas outweighing corporate objectives
    1. Project managers often unconsciously promote personal preferences that are not in line with corporate goals.
  3. Failure to define success metrics
    1. Successful reviews start at the beginning, not at the end.
  4. Improper allocation of resources
  5. Confusion between usability and user experience
    1. What is Usability? The degree to which people (users) can perform a set of required tasks.
      1. Elements of Usability
        1. Functionally correct
        2. Efficient to use
        3. Easy to learn
        4. Easy to remember
        5. Error tolerant
        6. Subjectively pleasing
    2. What is User Experience? The result of combining usability with visual design
      1. Aspects of User Experience
        1. Functional Design - The design of systems that support end-users’ tasks and goals
          1. User Research
          2. Information Architecture
          3. Interaction Design
        2. Communication Design - The design of how these systems are expressed to the user
          1. Interface design
          2. Visual design
          3. Content Strategy
        3. Goal: To develop an experience based on the patterns inherent in your stuff that empowers users to accomplish their goals.
    3. Best practices are guidelines, not rules. An effective solution is guided by goals, research, and analysis.
  6. Loss of focus on the target user segment
    1. "Built for me, not for us.“
    2. You are not your audience
      1. You do not see things like they do
      2. know what they know
      3. want what they want
      4. work how they work
  7. Overly complex solution
    1. Lack of focus of underlying business objective
    2. Measuring by feature rather than by applying goals against the target audience.
  8. Scope Creep
    1. Failing to contain a project and maintain a focus leads to
      1. Increased number of errors
      2. Diluted project focus
      3. Reduced usability
  9. Solution doesn’t solve the original problem
    1. When project managers try to become solution providers
      1. Delegate responsibility and choose solution providers who you trust
    2. Trying to satisfy everyone will result in satisfying no one
  10. Single project mindset vs. iterative cycle
    1. Online technology solutions are long term corporate initiatives, not singular events
    2. Pace yourself for the marathon, not for the mile.