Ryan Stickel

By: Ryan Stickel on August 8th, 2023

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Why are my IT projects off budget or not on time?

Technology Strategy | Outsourced IT Support

We can probably all agree that time and money are vital when running a business. You can’t afford to waste either. This is why it can be so frustrating to deal with IT projects that are off-budget or not on time, especially after making such a large investment.

This article will walk through some reasons these projects might be having issues, and some ways you can evaluate your current IT situation.

Before we dive in, it’s important that we note our bias here. As a managed service provider with a dedicated project team and documented evidence of finishing projects on time and within budget, we believe Innovative can be part of the solution for businesses struggling with project timelines and budgets.

With that in mind, we know we are not the right fit for everyone, so we did our best to write this article in a way that you can apply these scenarios to your IT situation.

Experience and Expertise

Let’s talk about a couple of key qualities that can affect project execution: experience and expertise. While that might sound broad, you can generally file any IT project shortcomings under one or the other.

Whether you have a managed, co-managed or internal IT setup, experience is vital to project execution. An experienced IT partner will be proactive and prepared in their approach and are less likely to be blindsided by issues that might arise.

Understandably, the more experience someone has at executing IT projects, the more expertise they’ll likely have. It’s hard to become good at something that you haven’t had a lot of practice in.

Factors Contributing to Projects Going Over Budget

A project going over budget can be incredibly frustrating. Not only have you spent more money than intended, but you've also invested your time in budgeting for something only to exceed it. So how does this happen?


Did the team for your IT project include any contingencies? If not, this is a big sign of inexperience, as contingencies are necessary for projects. They help set expectations for spending and allow for wiggle room when dealing with complex systems.

It’s always important to account for the fact that issues or delays might arise. Some issues are impossible to avoid, but it’s always possible to set reasonable expectations. The more experience your IT team has, the more realistic and accurate their expectations will be for you.

Remember, a contingency isn’t a substitute for diligence. A problem that might exist on the other end of the spectrum is a team that sets very high contingencies and continues to use them up due to mistakes. While this might mean the project lands within the determined budget, it is still costing you more than you should be paying.

Sales and Service

Another key factor that needs to be remembered is the relationship between sales and service. One can’t function without the other. If your project is just a simple transaction without any further input or planning, it might be lacking some expertise from the service team. These things can’t be done in a vacuum. Your account manager should be working closely with the service team on your behalf to get what your business needs.

Factors Causing Projects to Take Too Long

There are a few different factors that could cause your projects to take too long, and it can depend on your current situation.

Project Managers

If you’re working with a project team, does your project manager have the authority to make decisions, or do they have to wait for those decisions to make their way up the leadership ladder?

This matters because you can’t afford to wait for your project to take any longer than it needs to. If your project manager doesn’t have decision-making power, you might see delays because they can’t get things done quickly.

An IT partner with an experienced and trustworthy project manager will tend to see results in a timelier fashion, as they’re entrusted with managing resources and navigating issues as needed.

Internal IT Employees

If your current IT team is a single internal employee, they probably have a lot on their plate at any given time. Most of their day is spent fixing issues that can’t afford to wait, meaning projects will get left on the back burner. Even in a co-managed situation, that internal IT person might have trouble finding time for everything.

This isn’t any fault of the IT employee. With as busy as they are, they need to prioritize the issues that can’t wait. In addition, they might also lack the experience that’s needed to execute a project. Again, that’s not their fault, they don’t have time to get that practice in.

Some Questions to Ask Your Business and Your IT Partner

Below are some questions you can think about when evaluating your relationship with your IT partner.

  • Have you dealt with unexpected downtime because of IT projects gone wrong?
  • Does the idea of your IT partner executing a project worry you?
  • Do you have a dedicated account manager who is involved in the planning process?
  • Is that account manager receptive to any issues you’re dealing with, or are they only there to sell you things?
  • When you’re presented with a project, do you trust that your IT partner has your best interest in mind, or do you want to roll your eyes at them?

Solutions to IT Project Issues

If it’s the right fit for your business, a dedicated project team from a fully managed IT partner is the way to go if you want to avoid those roadblocks. Not only will that team be used to doing IT projects (experience), but they will also be aware of anything that might get in their way, leaving them better prepared (expertise).

As we keep reiterating here, working with someone who does this every day will generally yield better results than someone who does this twice a year.

The Importance of IT Projects

Projects, by definition, change the status quo. They are necessary to implement changes and upgrades to your business.

If you’ve made it to this point in the article, it’s likely that you understand the importance of IT projects and want them done in a timely fashion and within budget. Accountability and transparent communication are key when working with or choosing an IT partner.

Be sure to address any issues above if you feel like they’re affecting your business. Technology is just too vital to what we do on a day-to-day basis. There are plenty of IT options out there suited for all types of business, which means one of them will make a great fit for you.

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