This is a guest post from Michael Krigsman of TechRepublic’s sister site ZDNet. You can follow Michael on his ZDNet blog IT Project Failures, or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

Ever wonder why so many projects fail? Well, here’s your guide to the seamy underbelly of IT project management.

From Tony Collins, who writes a well-researched blog on government-related IT failures in the UK:

  1. Projects with realistic budgets and timetables don’t get approved.
  2. The more desperate the situation the more optimistic the progress report.
  3. A user is somebody who rejects the system because it’s what he asked for.
  4. The difference between project success and failure is a good PR company.
  5. Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.
  6. Every failing, overly ambitious project, has at its heart a series of successful small ones trying to escape.
  7. A freeze on change melts whenever heat is applied.
  8. You understood what I said, not what I meant.
  9. If you don’t know where you’re going, just talk about specifics.
  10. If at first you don’t succeed, rename the project.
  11. Everyone wants a strong project manager – until they get him.
  12. Only idiots own up to what they really know (thank you to President Nixon).
  13. The worst project managers sleep at night.
  14. A failing project has benefits which are always spoken of in the future tense.
  15. Projects don’t fail in the end; they fail at conception.
  16. Visions are usually treatable.
  17. Overly ambitious projects can never fail if they have a beginning, middle and no end.
  18. In government we never punish error, only its disclosure.
  19. The most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest.
  20. A realist is one who’s presciently disappointed in the future.