The top reason why large IT projects fail

in Interaction design,UX Management

IT departments and the large IT consultancies often have difficulty staying close to customers. Layers of customer representatives, project managers, and business analysts try to translate requirements between customers – the people who use systems – and developers. Marketing teams, sales teams and account managers may further prevent developers getting direct access to customers.

This lack of direct access to detailed customer data is the number one reason why large IT projects fail. It’s a failure in the requirements phase. Successful systems require User Experience specialists to be working with detailed customer data from observations and interviews. With such data they can see first-hand the customers’ tasks to be supported, uncover problems, and identify opportunities for improvement. This data underpins rich customer personas and scenarios.

It’s not possible to build usable systems from wish lists and functional specifications ‘gathered’ by IT consultancies: requirements don’t sit around like nuts in a forest waiting to be gathered. Rather, they are embedded in customers’ knowledge, their habits and activities, communication patterns, and pinned to notice boards. They can be found in how people organise their emails, on PostIt notes, and from casual conversations at coffee machines.

User Experience specialists use ethnographic techniques to get at this information. It’s on this rich insight into customers’ tasks that useful and usable systems are based.

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