IT Project Implementation Failures


In the present day society, many organizations are facing out the old ways of conducting business and are instead turning to the use of information technologies to remain competitive. Similar approaches have been encountered in the healthcare industry as well with many companies implementing major information system application, often dabbed IT projects such as computer aided data entry, scheduling, and registration to name but a few (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2009).

This paper looks at some causes of IT project failures. Indicators of project failure that manifest themselves in the implementation of the Memorial Health System clinician provider order entry (CPOE) system are identified and discussed.

Information Technology (IT) Initiative Failures

According to a study by Wager, Lee and Glaser (2009), many IT initiatives have ended up failing. Some causes of failure are; over-budgeting and taking too much time than is estimated on a project (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2009).

Hindrances to Large IT Projects

Numerous obstacles to the success of IT projects exist. In their study, Wager, Lee and Glaser (2009) identified and classified indicators of IT project failure. Some of these are discussed below.

Unclear Purpose

When the purpose of an IT project is not clearly stated, chances are that people will not be interested. System users should be able to understand the intended purpose of the IT project. If for example a project is being implemented to improve efficiency, users must be able to see how the new system will make them more effective (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2009).

Lack of Confidence in the Project

Staff members must be fully convinced that the project will add value to operations. All doubts should be cleared and the implementation of the project must not be seen to be a waste of time and resources. There should be evidence that performance will be enhanced by the new system. A skeptical group will most likely resist a project (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2009).

Inadequate Support from the Leaders

The project team members tend to get disappointed whenever they sense that the leadership is not committed to the project. Leaders should take project meetings serious and must not give any hint of disinterest. Sending subordinates to planned meetings for example may be taken to mean that leaders are less interested in the project (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2009).

Lack of Action from other Staff

The success of a project will also depend on good will from people in the organization. An excited team will certainly want to be associated with every stage of implementation. Staff may, however, lose interest and withdraw for various reasons. Some may just be too busy to take part in the project while others may switch off if the success of the project will increase their workload. These kind of attitudes will simply cause a project to come to a halt (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2009).

Problems within the Organization

The organization may be faced with challenges that may hinder the project advancement. Lack of expert skills for example will jeopardize the success of the project. In certain instances, the organization may have tried other initiatives in the past and failed and many people may be afraid of failing again (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2009).

Dictatorial or Intimidating Leadership

Projects may also fail when leaders do not provide a free environment where people can talk and exchange ideas. It is very difficult for employees to be associated with a project if their input is not sought. Intimidation by leaders will kill innovation (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2009).

Project Failure Indicators Manifested in the Case Study

Some of these indicators are quite noticeable in the implementation of the CPOE system by Memorial Health System. First, some key stake holders saw the project as being very controversial. A number of independent community based providers were greatly opposed to the implementation of the CPOE system for fear that their workload would increase since doctors would be required to enter orders into a computer system rather collect them verbally. Others expressed their fears with the timeline set but no one was willing to listen to them. With decision making being the reserve of the leadership team one cannot help but notice the dictatorial approach used.

Many people got disappointed by the fact that ideas were imposed upon them. Concerns raised show an obvious lack of confidence in the success of the CPOE system. Inadequate support from the leaders is also evident in this scenario. Martin for example tried to pass across important information without a breakthrough. The organization also had financial problems which led to the reduction of staff working on the CPOE project and eventually, an implementation of an improved CPOE system in only one unit. Afraid of hurting the leadership, others like Martin must have lost their support for the CPOE system somewhere along the way.

What Could Be Done Differently

According to Wager, Lee and Glaser (2009), most failures in IT projects have to do with the management’s attitude. Some suggestions to deal with the issues identified in the case study include; avoiding intimidation and adopting a friendly work culture where views of others can be accommodated. It is also important to recognize when the organization is not able to carry out certain projects (Wager, Lee and Glaser, 2009). Efforts should be made to motivate staff and encourage as many as possible to be part of the project implementation. Leaders should also assure all interested parties of their undivided support. Finally, ample time should be set aside to lobby others to support the project. Facts about the project should be made very clear and everyone should see a reason to uphold the project.


Wager K. A., Lee, F. W. & Glaser, J. P. (2009). Health Care Information Systems: A Practical Approach for Health Care Management. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

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