Investigating the critical success factors for the successful completion of information and technology projects in the public sector
Public sector projects in South Africa are still experiencing high failure rates which have received wide coverage in most published work. The problem of project failure is not confined to the public sector, but it also impacts private sector projects as well. The challenge of low project success rate is also not confined to developing countries but is also found in major economies such as the United States of America and Britain. This therefore indicates that high project failure rates are a major problem which the entire world is struggling to address on a continuous basis. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the critical factors that can increase the success rate of the South African public-sector ICT projects. To achieve the objectives of this study, a quantitative research methodology was adopted. The data collection was conducted using a structured questionnaire and the research strategy used was a survey. The target population for the study consisted of 300 accessible public-sector project management professionals working within the Gauteng province. A sample of 120 was selected for this study. The questionnaire was sent to the respondents by electronic mail, and some of the questionnaires were hand delivered. The study results revealed that the top ranking critical success factors in public sector ICT implementation projects included employee training needs and staff competence, end-user involvement, top management support, effective project management, adequate project management skills in project personnel, clear communication of IT objectives to management, acceptance criteria orprocesses, appropriate hardware technology, and availability of adequate financial resources. A total of 96.9% of respondents agreed that employee training and staff competence was a key success factor and another 96.8% of respondents agreed that end-user involvement was critical to the success of public sector ICT projects. Some of the recommendations that emerged from the study included the following: reskilling of project management personnel in government, strengthening of ICT governance in the public sector and the implementation of projects that have the greatest benefits for the target group. More research in the area of project failure in public sector is still needed.