What is the Number One Reason Why Analytic Software Projects Fail?

What is the Number One Reason Software Analytics Projects Fail?
Written by Heather L. Cole, July 15th, 2021

Organizations will spend significant hours and resources evaluating analytic solutions like IBM Cognos Analytics.  They will then spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on analytic software and consulting services.  Heck some clients even decide their Analytics project was a failure, so they investigate other tools and spend more money on the migration only to be in the same spot but with a lot less money in their accounts.  Analytic Software Project failures are not unique. But there is one question we never hear organizations ask in the software evaluation process and it is the one question everyone should be asking. “What is the number one reason why Analytic Software Projects fail?”

I have been working in the analytic software space for over 25 years, and I believe I have only been asked this question once.  Yes, once in 25 years. 

Answer why analytic projects fail…

Imagine if I could let you in on a secret of why analytic software projects fail and to solve this problem would not cost you a dime.  That’s right regardless of why you are using Microsoft Power BI, IBM Cognos Analytics, Tableau or Qlik, there is one common reason analytics projects fail and to solve the problem is easy! The reason is…. 



When was the last time you were disappointed?  Was it this morning when they did not give you the cream you asked for in your coffee?  Was it when your friend cancelled your golf outing?  Whatever it was the only reason you were disappointed was that your expectations were not met or exceeded.  Think about it.  If your back was hurting and you really didn’t want to play golf, you would not be disappointed.

If you want to learn more about your personal expectations, here’s two good resources from one of my mentors, Brendon Burchard.

How to Better Manage Your Expectations – Brendon

Power of Expectations - Brendon

Analytics and Expectations

The number one reason analytics software projects fail is that expectations of the executives or end users were not met or exceeded.  If your executives, or end users are not happy with your deployment because they expected something easier to use, faster, more dynamic or to contain information they deemed essential and it did not deliver, then they will not view your analytics projects as a success.

Solving the Biggest Problem in all Analytics Projects

Now that you know the biggest challenge in any analytics software project is not meeting or exceeding expectations, let’s discuss how to solve the problem.   I mentioned earlier that the solution doesn’t even have to cost you a dime! 

Host An Analytics Workshop

Step 1.  Set proper expectations in the first place.

Lodestar Solutions coaches our IBM Cognos Analytics clients to run internal workshops to identify what the executives really want.  If you do not have an analytics roadmap defined yet, don’t worry it doesn’t have to be a big undertaking.  To learn more, check out our recent blog series:

How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants – Part 1

How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants – Part 2

Ultimately you want the executives to define one or two dashboards or reports that can be game changing.  But let them define it, don’t assume!


Step 2:  When things don’t go as planned, you want to Reframe Expectations.

Let’s admit it, analytic software projects always have at least one unforeseen situation. Maybe the data needs cleansing, maybe you don’t have the data you thought you had.  There’s always a hurdle.  But when things don’t go as planned with your software analytics project you want to reframe expectations. 

In the CIO.com article, 8 Project Management Tips for Setting and Managing Expectations, they identify the importance of being honest when things go wrong and to present workaround options or solutions.

By openly and honestly presenting the situation and proposing options, you will be reframing expectations.  They might not be happy with the new outcome but at least they know it’s coming and that you are working on making it right.

Are Your Executives Happy with Your Analytics Initiatives? 

Now that you understand the importance of setting proper expectations and reframing expectations when necessary, I want to challenge you.  Now this will take courage, but I know you are up for it.  Go ask your executives how happy they are with the organization’s analytics initiative.  I like to ask them to score it 0-10 (amazing).  Be prepared for the answer, it might be lower than you think.  Don’t get defensive, just use this as an information gathering opportunity.  And ask, “What is one thing you wish we were delivering that you don’t currently get today?”  Then listen! 

As an Executive Analytics Coach working with IBM Cognos Analytics clients, I am often faced with executives that are not happy with their analytics deployments.  Some are going as far as looking at other solutions to replace Cognos Analytics.  But when I start to ask questions, we discover the client is on a very old version or they never deployed the new functionality.  Many have never run a workshop with the executives.  It’s not surprising the executives are not giving Cognos the highest scores, when the analytics team never really asked what the executives want.  So, stop blaming the software!  Maybe we need to look in the mirror and think if we asked the right questions and set the right expectations!

If you are an IBM Cognos analytics client and asking is this the best solution for me, you might be interested in the fact that IBM Cognos Analytics was named an exemplary vendor in Ventana’s 2021 Analytics and Data Value Index.

Time to learn more about Analytics Projects and Expectations

Now it’s time to learn more about the number on reason analytic software projects fail and how you can avoid it without spending a dollar more.  In fact, our methods will help you save money on your analytics project.  On Thursday July 22, 2021, I’ll share the secrets to running a successful Analytics Software Project. 

Power of Setting Expectations for Successful Analytics Projects

Join me on Thursday July 22, 2021

When: Jul 22, 2021, 12:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting - click here to register

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

If you have specific questions, please email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend