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Unrealistic Expectations

Another factor relates to top management's belief about the extent to which the system and people can perform to carry through a project of mammoth proportions. This is especially true in times when every move seems to be a good move, for example, in the "dotcom era." CIO magazine2 presented a detailed report of a company called Close Call (a pseudonym to protect the identity of the company) that fell victim due to the CEO's unrealistic expectations. Close Call was in the business of telemarketing and catalog sales. The CEO wanted to implement a data warehouse that would fully integrate the various call centers. The lure of integrated data flow and data on demand was too much to resist. However, the CEO believed that getting the data warehouse up and running in 3–4 months was just a matter of "getting the right people for the job." The Information Systems (IS) department was already stretched and, therefore, outside help was sought. The expectations, with regard to resources as well as time required, were very unrealistic. After the pilot project turned out to be a debacle, the entire data warehousing project was canceled. While the initial budget slated was for $250,000, the team spent nearly $750,000. Half of Close Call's IS staff quit their jobs after the project. The company's stock price lost more than two-thirds of its value during the period. The reaso for the failure, as stated by a consultant for Close Call, was because they attempted too many technology projects at the same time, a case of biting off more than they could chew. The lesson, in this case, is to set realistic expectations of IT implementations. A cross-functional team might provide a more balanced outlook and serve to temper expectations.

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