Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of any information technology project is the near certain fact that it will be either late, over budget or both. It seems that ever since information technology (IT) first appeared on the executive radar screen in the 1960s, the norm is for projects to fall short of the goals established at the outset. It is rare to see a major project that does not promise astounding net present values (NPVs) or internal rates of return in excess of 30 percent prior to its approval. How many deliver? For that matter, how many projects actually measure the return?

Over time, numerous tools and techniques have been developed to mitigate the problem of poor project performance; however, the results have been variable at best. Be it the structured development methodologies of the '70s and '80s, the rapid prototyping of the '90s or the continuing sophistication of project tracking tools from Gantt to Pert to critical path, the result has often been to have better and better reporting of relative failure.

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