Most failed IT projects fall victim to what Michael Krigsman calls the "Devil's Triangle": the customer, the systems integrator, and the vendor, all of whom have their own, often conflicting, agendas.
Sure, the vendor may overpromise and the integrator might pile on charges, but the customers are hardly faultless, says Krigsman.
"Customers have their own internal schizophrenia. You sit down in a meeting with them and they present a unified front. They want A, B, C, and D. It all sounds great. When you drill down and talk to them, you realize that the IT department doesn't have a clue what the sales or accounting departments need, while the sales and accounting departments are clueless about the technology. But they present this seamless RFP to the systems integrator and the software vendor, and they all sign the contract anyway."
When projects go bad, it's usually "a shared responsibility between customers, integrators and vendors," agrees Forrester's Petouhoff. "I think everyone in charge of buying software should work for a software company or a systems integrator at some point in their careers. If they actually sat in those seats they'd understand the secrets of both worlds and be better prepared to ask the right questions."
As more vendors move to delivering software as a service, says Petouhoff, some of the problems will go away. With SaaS, customers can see how applications really work, and they can back out of a bad fit without sacrificing a huge investment.
"To be fair, you have to blame the business owner too," says GoToBilling's Roderick. "They don't like to read the fine print on agreements. And even when faced with the truth, they still sometimes go off and agree to something that sounds too good to be true."