Poor planning & lax management sinks one third of e-business projects

Poor project planning and careless management sunk a third of the e-business projects that failed to meet their deadline or initial budget forecasts in the last 12 to 18 months, says a global industry report.

The report, 'eBusiness Implementation: Promises Versus Reality,' canvassed 150 senior e-business and IT professionals from some of the world's largest organisations and systems integrators.

The results are indicative of e-business activity in Australia, according to Marc Phillips, managing director of APT Strategies, which, together with UK-based consultancy Datamonitor compiled the report.

The main problem in Australia's e-commerce industry is a reticence to accept cultural change, he claimed.

"A lot of Australian companies are living in a time warp.

"Look at the malaise of the Australian worker. Businesses here may be technically-savvy, but it's the swag of people not willing to change that is a major infrastructure problem.

"From a worker perspective in Australia, it's a situation of cultural cringe," Phillips said.

Conducted earlier this year, the study found that non-technical factors, like poorly planned projects, caused project over run in 69 per cent of cases.

Furthermore, 31 per cent of companies surveyed failed to establish any key performance indicators (KPIs) to control the direction of e-business projects and had no measurable business objectives for projects from the start, the report said.

Those problems resulted in 31 per cent of companies having no ability to specify when their projects would pay back on investment.

Phillips said organisations are struggling to set any ROI (return on investment) for projects because they don't know what the equation for determining ROI is.

"Companies seem to [ignore] that e-business projects are firstly a logistical exercise, and secondly about sound financial management. And companies need to understand there are multiple sets of ROIs in any e-business project," he said.

To a lesser extent, Australian business suffers from a "me too" syndrome, failing to question if they truly need to invest in e-commerce technologies at all, Phillips said. "We have a 'next-door neighbour' problem here a lot of the time, like Woolworths is doing something, so why doesn't Coles?"

Moreover, he said e-business was a paradox for companies because, while its chief aim was to cut costs by re-engineering processes to streamline business and boost productivity, it was effectively a form of "infrastructural unemployment" through technology.

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