Lovelace lecture 2009

The sins of IT projects and why they can fail

Speaker: IBM Fellow Maurice Perks will deliver the lecture on behalf of Dr Tony Storey, IBM Fellow and Distinguished Engineer.

In this lecture, Maurice Perks will relate some of the technical IT experiences that he has encountered during forty years of dealing with complex IT projects within large enterprises covering finance, manufacturing and government-industry sectors.

He focusses on why IT projects, especially large ones, can have a high risk of failure due to a number of technical factors, and how there are recurring themes.

He explains how we can often de-risk large IT projects when we understand these factors, now that our own industry has matured. To do this we have to understand how the continuing developments in technology of our fast-moving industry can be harnessed within the bounds of acceptable risks and probabilities of success.

He discusses such challenges as the continuous changes that IT projects face from several quarters; the never-ending search for perfect application code that does not need testing; and some heroic attempts at home-produced middleware that can turn a traditional commercial enterprise into a budding IT software house.

The lecture will not have all the answers but will pose a few key questions that can be asked at the right project moments.