Batting averages and IT projects: Ability or luck?


Born and raised in Michigan, it’s only natural that I’m a baseball fan. After all, our teams have produced some of the greatest players. For example, Detroit Tiger outfielder Ty Cobb has the highest batting average (.366) in Major League Baseball (MLB) history.

If you are not familiar with American baseball, the batting average is simply defined by the number of hits divided by bats. Players are deemed successful if they bat .300.

Think about that. Are you successful in business with a 30 percent success rate? Probably not.

Ty Cobb’s career ended in 1928, yet no one has be able to surpass many of his records. So the question is: Was it ability or luck?

Are your IT projects batting .300?

What about successful insurance IT projects? Or should I say, the lack of success? Does the same apply to them? Is it ability or luck? Do only the greats really deliver?

If you follow the data, certainly the scoreboard is laden with IT projects that have gone awry.

Let’s take a look at some of the data that the Standish Group has collected on IT Development projects since 1985:

  • Only about 30 percent of projects are successful; meaning on budget, on time, and with all planned features
  • The cost of failures are estimated in range of $50 to $75 billion annually
  • In the 1980s, IT projects were deemed to have failed about 60 to 70 percent of the time; now, almost 30 years later, they still fail at the same rate
  • Projects can commonly go 300 percent over budget, exceed timelines and still not achieve implementation

Go with the vendor with a perfect record

So what do you to ensure success? For those of you that like to keep score, here is one for you: 13,517 to 0. You see, every Monday morning, during a short, company-wide meeting, we update the scoreboard we proudly display in our office.

But it’s more than just a customer count. It’s a testament to our success. Because we have never had a failed implementation. Ever.

That’s right, 13,517 successful implementations of OnBase, the leading Enterprise Content Management solution.

I agree with my boss (with two son’s playing collegiate baseball, no less) when he says that to hit a baseball pitched at 95 mph that moves, there is zero luck. That’s why experts deem Ty Cobb’s ability world-class.

Experts also name our product as best-in-class. Though luck has sometimes been on our side, it takes ability to consistently deliver relevant software solutions, with a very high level of customer satisfaction and with zero failures.

Now that is a statistic worth investigating. Maybe your organization should take a look!


Ruth Fisk

Ruth Fisk has more than 25 years of experience working within the insurance industry and is a foremost expert on the practical application of EDMS technology. In her role as... read more about: Ruth Fisk

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