Does high project failure require "professionalising" IT?

Two recent blogs by Michael Krigsman discusses how high IT project failure rates are, and some of the key reasons.

Study: 68 percent of IT projects fail
Requirements and failure: Interview with CA’s SVP of IT Governance

I am friends with a number of professional engineers – civil, mechanical and electrical – and I don’t believe they would dare to operate if the failure rates of their projects was anywhere near as high.

Michael identifies issues relating to lack of skills, knowledge and competency as the key factors leading to failure. Skills, knowledge and competency are what training and education programs are supposed to develop. People go to university to acquire skills and knowledge. But for professionals like doctors (my wife being one) and engineers, a university degree only starts the process. The engineering companies I know expect to train young engineers for several years before they are ready to be let loose.

But when it comes to IT, customers often think they have the in-house capacity to for projects. I think many people also look at software like Microsoft Office and think that implementing and using software is easy.

Many years ago in South Africa, there was a debate in the Computer Society about whether IT should become a profession. At the time, the proposal was defeated. After reading Michael’s blog, I am wondering whether we should re-look at the proposal. The next step would  be where do you start, and would IT vendors, consultants and users see this as beneficial?

In engineering, aircraft engineers must be a relatively recent addition as a profession. So how did they go from being a bunch of techies to having their own professional status?

BTW, I suspect that the information Michael uses comes from projects in the more well-resourced developed economies, so I wonder how the projects perform for those of us in developing countries?


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