by Megan Santosus

Heroux Advocates Learning from Mistakes

Feb 01, 20031 min

Richard Heroux knows that failure can be a valuable teacher. In his master?s degree thesis examining why federal modernization projects fail, he cited several common pitfalls that can be obstacles to success. He defined project failure as being based on three criteria: costs overruns, missed schedules and undelivered objectives. There were many failures to draw on?according to the General Accounting Office, federal agencies waste $20 billion annually on dead-end modernization projects.

Heroux gathered material about unsuccessful projects from agencies, media reports and the public domain, then narrowed his focus to nine organizations?including the FAA, IRS and Social Security Administration?for which he had the most information. The mistakes included:

  • No systems development life cycle
  • Lack of top management support
  • Undefined and hazy system requirements
  • Excessive scope creep
  • Sporadic user involvement
  • Lack of systems architecture oversight
  • Project leaders not having the appropriate technical background