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An Empirical Investigation into the Challenges and Failures of Large-Scale Complex Information Technology Projects

Bolutiwi, Meshach; (2019) An Empirical Investigation into the Challenges and Failures of Large-Scale Complex Information Technology Projects. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Over the past two decades, there have been widespread failures of projects connected to the implementation and delivery of large-scale complex information technology systems (LSCITS) across various industries globally. The high failure rates of large-scale, complex information technology projects (LSCITP) continues to be a topic of central interest in both the academic and professional industries. Consequently, the IT industry is an industry that is now continuously being differentiated by high profile project failures when compared with any other industry. The objectives of this study are to examine the challenges of LSCITP by undertaking a review of the emblematic syndromes of failures of LSCITP and examining the reasons why LSCITP run into difficulties, why they become challenged and why many eventually fail. Secondly, to determine and analyse the problem areas in LSCITP that contribute significantly to the issues that become inherent in their implementation leading to their poor performance and or eventual failures. This research was conducted through extensive empirical research. Data on LSCITP from existing literature were analysed. A literature review exercise was carried out to develop the framework that was used by the study to assess the extent of the challenges faced by LSCITP and to identify the causes of poor performance. In-depth examination of relevant case studies on LSCITP was conducted to capture the modern realities of LSCITP. Further research was subsequently carried out through the gathering of data on real-world LSCITP via expert interviews with experienced hands-on practitioners directly and actively involved in the day-to-day management, implementation and delivery of LSCITS and LSCITP. In summarising the findings, the results identify that the majority of the challenges encountered on LSCITP are connected to human factors which are the results of innumerable failures in implementation and delivery processes, suboptimal management and inadequate governance and leadership structures. These issues are further aggravated by the lack of adequate risk management processes and lack of knowledge integration. The findings identify that the challenges faced on LSCITP are the collective results from negative impacts experienced from one or more factors across one or more identified LSCITP knowledge areas. Furthermore, these negative impacts experienced were also exacerbated by issues relating to change management, size and scale, extended implementation durations, the urgency of implementation, complex organisational structures, complex project environments and uncontrollable external factors. Based on the findings from the study, the primary areas that generate challenged outcomes for LSCITP was identified and narrowed down to six highly-critical and nine critical knowledge areas. Furthermore, sixty-six new challenged factors with negative performance impacts on LSCITP were identified including their mapping to related knowledge areas and about forty-three practical recommendations from real-world LSCITP applicable by practitioners and stakeholders to mitigate challenges on ongoing, and future implementations of LSCITP are also presented. The study also provides a conceptual schema that assisted with the representation of the set of challenged factors identified. Finally, the study provides an assessment framework for evaluating the performance of LSCITP to identify challenges, map out challenged factors and obtain a view on implementation progress to support improvements of LSCITP performance.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: An Empirical Investigation into the Challenges and Failures of Large-Scale Complex Information Technology Projects
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: IT megaprojects, large-scale, complex, information technology, systems, project management, IT project management
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10073391
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