A 2007 survey released by Cap Gemini Consulting in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit found that Western European businesses had launched on average seven major transformation programmes in the past three years.
Given the scale of this activity, 86% of those questioned believed that managing these business transformations had therefore become an integral part of management, but only 30% felt that it was something at which they excelled.
The majority of senior executives surveyed were not satisfied with the results of their transformation programmes. For example,
70% expressed dissatisfaction with the communication of objectives to employees;
75% expressed dissatisfaction with training, commitment and people management;
73% considered themselves unsuccessful in avoiding slippage in execution time;
and 70% said they were not in a position to properly assess the success of their programme.
46% of the executives cited a failure to achieve a project's original objectives.
Cap Gemini’s own website states that ‘Although project and programme management capabilities and methods have improved over the years, transformation programmes still fail, because improvements in capability have not matched increases in the complexity of environments and programmes’.
A report by the Standish Group into the success of IT projects during the 1990s found that around 70 per cent failed (using a somewhat generous definition of failure, which was defined as a 100 per cent overrun on time or budget). Most industry observers agree that little improvement has occurred in the years since the study – in fact some argue that the situation may have got worse. The Standish data showed 31 per cent of projects cancelled before completion, 88 per cent exceeded deadline, budget or both, with average cost overruns of 189 per cent and average schedule overruns 222 per cent.
Research by Dr John McManus and Dr Trevor Wood-Harper looking at Information Technology projects across the European Union between 1998 and 2005 concluded that only one in eight could be considered truly successful (failure being described as those projects that do not meet the original time, cost and (quality) requirements criteria). They calculated the cost of project failure for just the single year of 2004 as €142 billion across the EU.