Why COTS Projects Fail

October 20th, 2008   •   no comments   

Package based implementations fail just as often as other projects e.g. projects that overrun, are over budget or fail to deliver what the users expected or wanted. Analysis carried out by Templar Consulting has shown that there are common reasons for project failure. These include:


  • Requirements and expectations not adequately defined or communicated amongst the relevant parties
  • Unwillingness to compromise on the part of the business – especially in methods of working or businesses processes
  • Business case incomplete – activities and costs overlooked
  • Flawed selection and procurement processes – failure to reach understanding on key areas such as:
    • What the product will and will not provide
    • How gaps will be addressed, by whom and at what cost
    • How customisation will be achieved and by whom?
    • Impact to working practices and what steps are required to implement changes
  • What services the supplier will provide and what expectations they have on the client that might affect their ability to deliver
  • Poor contract and supplier management
  • Lack of relevant client-side project management experience
  • Lack of project and cost controls
  • Failure to implement Business Process Changes
  • Problems with data quality and data conversion
  • Lack of involvement by the key sponsors and users


The above problem areas span the whole project lifecycle. Indeed, it is vital that the project is properly set up from the very start and controls put in place to deal with these issues.