top of page

10 reasons of project failure

During our career, we witnessed the implementation of a large number of successful projects, we were fortunate to participate as a member of the project team or as a project manager. Everybody likes to talk about successful projects, they become case studies, role models, they are referred to during project management training and write articles for industry publications. At the same time, projects that for some reasons have crashed are of great interest, but it is much more difficult to find information about them. Below are the top-10 most frequent reasons for project failures, which we compiled on the basis of personal observations and informal discussions with our colleagues. We hope that it will be useful to all and will help to avoid the most frequent mistakes leading to failure. 1. Poor planning Planning is the most important, and at the same time, the most underestimated stage of the project. At this very stage, you determine the results you want to get at the end and the plan for its achievement. In some projects, planning can take up to 40% of the whole project time or even more, and if in your project it is allocated less than 20% for planning, then this is a reason to give a serious thought. Remember: Failing to plan is planning to fail. 2. Lack of support from top management Project Sponsor/Project Executive should play a key role in promotion of the project and in removing obstacles. Problems with resources, conflicts between departments, overflow beyond tolerance limits and the willingness of an organization to accept changes cannot be solved effectively without active participation of project sponsor. 3. Insufficient involvement of the business Often business has a tendency to give the whole project to the project team, reducing the participation in it to a minimum. In fact, this approach bears a huge risk to get, as a result, something different from what the organization counts on. Many stages of the project (for example, definition of requirements) without active involvement of business in general lose their meaning, and in some projects (for example, ERP implementation) should be led by the business - its transfer to IT is a direct way to failure. 4. Poor project documentation Even if you work on the project alone, the documentation for transfer of the project for support or for evaluation of the results will be required. And if several people are involved in the project, moreover the employees of different departments or contractors, the documentation is simply vital. All business requirements, all key stages of the project, all important decisions, risks and problems should be carefully described - this will save a lot of time in future and will help to avoid disagreements in the interpretation of history and results. Complex projects may even require a role of separate Project Management Officer, who will be responsible for the documentation. 5. Lack of communication Insufficient feedback or awareness of the organization about the progress of the project and the coming changes often leads to situations, where the project team considers the project to be technically accomplished, but it does not meet either the requirements or the expectations of users. Remember: you cannot not communicate! Complex projects may require the allocation of a separate role of communications specialist and the development of communication strategy. 6. Underestimated timing/complexity Underestimation of time required completing the task, or its complexity, leads not only to the fact that project terms may be shifted, but also to the need to pay overtime, conflict over resources with other projects or business priorities. You should remember that most likely you would have to deal with tasks that initially were not planned. Always leave some time over the initial assessment and believe- it will never remain unused. 7. Creep of project scope Sometimes even experienced project managers do not have the courage to say NO to business and remove the nice-to-have tasks from the scope of the project or refuse to add new tasks during the project. The complexity and risks of the project grow in geometric progression from the number of "Wishfuls" and it is very important to understand what is necessary to implement, what can be neglected, and what should be done in a separate project. 8. Overloaded project resources/conflicting interests It is logical, when to the project team the business allocates the most capable and responsible employees. At the same time, this means that they are carrying the biggest load on daily business operations, that eventually will result in a conflict of interests and they will have to choose between, for example, the timely close of the month or the implementation of the project milestone. And this, apart from the fact that the same employee can simultaneously participate in several projects. Make sure that employees involved in the project have a backup. 9. Absence of Risk Management Many projects fail because of the fact that risks that were not identified and not managed in the early stages turned into problems and did not allow them to achieve their goals. The earlier you start to identify and work with risks, the more chances you have for minimization of their impact on the project, if they will occur. 10. Unqualified Project Manager Often enough a company employee who has knowledge in technical expertise and detailed knowledge of the subject area, but unqualified in the field of project management, is appointed for the position of Project Manager. This approach bears a huge risk - the chances for a successful project average are much higher with a project management specialist who can always attract experts to solve specific problems, than with a technician who does not know the basics of the methodology of project management. Forewarned - forearmed. And we hope that the above mentioned experience of other people's mistakes will serve as a good weapon for the successful implementation of your projects. Good luck! IT. Experience. Result.

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page