Affiliated Organization

National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland


This paper investigates the tightness of budgetary control over projects in a large systems development multinational. This represents a case of extreme ISD failure en mass, where all but 2 of the 22 projects in a business unit went over budget, causing senior executives to refocus their strategic priorities and cancel all current and potential projects that followed. This study focuses specifically on the two best performing (12% and 4% under-budget) and worst performing (223% and 320% over budget) of these projects. Using a framework drawn from control systems theory, this study examines the 'tightness' of budgetary control that was exerted over each project, and what was done or could have been done to avert such failure. The study then identifies a set of emerging factors affecting tight budgetary control in ISD.