Critical success factors for strategic ICT

Collaboration in the chain is becoming increasingly important for organizations. By entering into partnerships, alliances and other partnerships, companies can improve efficiency. But there's more. The quality of the service can be increased and, together with the various partners, it is possible to work more effectively on innovation based on co-creation. That all sounds wonderful, but how unruly is reality here?

The fact that the attention for and experience with partnerships grows does not yet offer any guarantees for success. In practice, many partnerships do not achieve the intended objectives because they often involve complex processes. Our research into critical success factors for ICT projects (46) and projects in construction (44) was carried out by means of a survey. As the basis for the research design, we interviewed six industry experts. The research uses the Kralijc matrix, which indicates when a project is classified as strategic because of the height of the complexity and the financial value. These strategic projects can best be managed through long-term relationships aimed at collaboration.

Because projects in the ICT and construction industry can often be characterized as strategic because of the high risks and the high costs, we chose to investigate these two industries.

The most important success factorco-workers at work

The lack or incorrect management of a partnership can be important causes for the high failure rates of strategic ICT projects. When entering into a partnership, many companies are forced to organize their organizations differently and a change in culture is desirable or even necessary. Critical success factors from the perspective of the buyer / customer are closely related to the perspective of the supplier. How does the supplier view your company? Only by classifying a supplier as strategic does not create reciprocity in that area. In other words; it is not then obvious that the supplier also sees you as strategic. By looking at your supplier in this 'refreshing' way, you can prevent a possible mismatch.


Customer and supplier often have a lot of positive energy at the beginning of a challenging strategic project. Managers want this positive energy to remain present throughout the project and to contribute to achieving goals and expectations. This responsibility is in line with the responsibility for the budget, planning, scope and progress of the project. The complexity of strategic ICT and building projects aggravated the tasks of managers. It is precisely for this reason that it is important to approach the projects proactively, so that they are started from the basis of thorough preparation. The complexity of the projects examined mainly relate to the environment and the project itself. One of the most important complexity factors for ICT projects is the shrinking budgets and the fact that ICT projects often have to be implemented in an environment where daily activities can be disrupted as little as possible.

No ICT projects

Additional complexity factors are related to the often unlimited amount of opportunities that ICT offers. Usually, new ICT systems also have to be linked to other existing systems. This often proves to be much more complicated during implementation than had been anticipated. In this context, it is important for the client to realize that ICT projects are not actually ICT projects, but business projects. It is about optimization that is supported by ICT. As a rule, this optimization also leads to new processes. These and other complexity factors once again emphasize the importance of partnerships and a shared long-term vision.

Research results

Our research focused on the relational characteristics that play a role during the partnerships. The research shows that the variables studied - trust, commitment, involvement of senior management, joint goals, partners' competences and performance satisfaction - are all necessary for the success of a strategic ICT or building project. The results of the research later on No misunderstanding: in order to be successful, the presence or potential of these variables is absolutely essential. Based on these findings, we have drawn up a practical model with clear action points for managers.

Model and action points

A partnership is aimed at creating common value. Within a partnership, the relationship develops on the basis of honesty and transparency, both in the preparation and in the progress of the project.

  1. Unambiguous objective
    • Listen carefully to what the client needs.
    • Translate need for concrete objectives, the objectives for concrete solutions.
    • Only start when everything is clearly on the table and you understand each other.
    • Discuss what you do not agree with.
    • Know that a large diversity of interests requires a lot of time for consensus.
    • Name the added value for the other party.
    • If something takes a lot of time, put it down.
  1. Provide craftsmanship
    • Ensure balance in the skills of employees in both organizations.
    • Provide a professional cooperation; be full conversational partners.
    • Make sure your employees are also transparent.
  1. Be involved
    • Put a project team together with the right people with the right attitude and capabilities and ensure that everyone's responsibilities are clear.
    • Invest time in the relationship and be involved. This eventually pays back.
    • Make sure everyone is really aware of the progress.
    • Delve into the qualitative progress and risk management of the project.
    • Be involved as a senior manager as a sponsor.
  1. Be responsible
    • Do not leave the responsibilities to the customer.
    • Realize that you yourself are also responsible.
    • Choose the right partner, because you get what you ask for.
    • You are only understood when you are clear in your communication, transparent.
    • Give the supplier the space he is entitled to based on his expertise.
  1. Be results-oriented
    • Think in solutions. After a good preparation, something will always change.
    • Changes to the scope result in a new project. Be honest and kill the project if the goal really can not be realized.
    • Risks and rewards must be in balance and the settlement model in line with the spirit of the contract.

Your supplier is your partner with whom you jointly pursue an equal goal. That this does not always work out in practice is mainly due to a lack of mutual trust. Creating this is not easy, but perhaps the recommendations described above can help.

The full research report can be downloaded here:

This article appeared in ICT / Magazine