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A Very Brief History of Technology Projects

The numbers are staggering. More than 60 percent of technology projects fail.

Think about it. More than three times in five, a technology project:

  • Takes longer than expected
  • Fails to provide users with desired functionality
  • Runs over budget
  • Or does all of the above.

This. Is. Insane.

Forget the stats, though. Failed IT projects have cost many executives their jobs and resulted in dozens of high-profile lawsuits.

While their particulars differ, many of these disasters stem from the use of the Waterfall (or Phase-Gate) methodology. To make a long story short, entering one phase requires successfully completing a prior phase. That is, there’s no opportunity to go back and add, change, or remove requirements. In theory, all projects successful enter and complete phases in this orderly manner:

In practice, though, it often looks something like this:

Employees often find themselves behind the eight ball.

People who believed that they would have two months for testing now find themselves with two weeks. What’s more, there’s little opportunity to provide feedback until the very end of the project. As I wrote in Why New Systems Fail, employees often find themselves behind the eight ball.

A Better Way

Starting in the early aughts, progressive organizations began eschewing the Waterfall method for Agile ones such as Scrum. These methods allow for smaller batch sizes, greater transparency, routine user and client feedback, and frequent iterations. As a result, their success rates far exceed those of their Phase-Gate counterparts (PDF).

Scrum fundamentally differs from the Waterfall method:

Better a little which is well done than a great deal imperfectly.


5marbles embraces Agile concepts and Scrum in particular. The company’s dynamic and skilled team delivers quality software products on time. (If you’re curious about the cost, click here to see our rates.)

Thanks for reading this and I look forward to hearing from you.

Founder and president, 5marbles