Project failure can happen to any project, in any organization and everyone has their own interpretation of project failure. For some, the project failed if it didn’t meet the deadline or exceeded the budget, for others because it failed to satisfy stakeholders’ expectations. Regardless of how you view project failure, it is important to identify the reasons why projects fail.
There are many reasons why projects fail but we will focus on the most common ones:
Not Driving Customer Involvement
A research conducted by University of Ottawa shows that 33% of projects fail due to lack of interest from top management. Make sure to include the customer at the beginning of the project and continually involve them as things change so that required adjustments can be made together.
90% of a Project Manager’s job is to communicate, but how communication occurs is different for every project manager. Many projects fail due to a breakdown in communications. It is vital for the Project Manager to have strong visualization and storytelling skills in order to communicate clearly and regularly about project activities, issues, concerns, and risks.
Lack of Leadership
For any project to work there needs to be strong leadership from the top down. If a project doesn’t have buy-in and support from C-level executives and business process owners, it is hard to get everyone on board. As a Project Manager, it is important to identify those people early enough in the project and understand their roles and level of involvement. Lacking this can be a big red flag from the beginning.
On every project, there is a degree of uncertainty, and therefore risk. One of the best ways to make sure the project succeeds is to reduce the issues around uncertainty by using an identified risk management strategy in your project plan. For more risk/issue management please refer to our blog: Keys to Successful Risk and Issue Management.
Poor stakeholder management and engagement is one of the most common mistakes Project Managers can make. Identifying, and engaging and communicating with the right stakeholders is the key to success. Without the right stakeholder input, the wrong solution may be delivered without even realizing it – and it won’t meet business needs or the expectations of the key customers.
This is one of the most common mistakes that can derail a project. According to the State of Project Management Annual Survey 2016 conducted by Wellington, more than 34% of projects have no baseline. It is essential to make sure you have a clearly defined project scope; otherwise, it will be very challenging to deal with scope creep. It is also important that the project scope is agreed to and signed by the stakeholders.
Having a project methodology or framework in place is also extremely important. Inadequate planning is one of the major reasons why projects can spin out of control.
While there can be many contributing factors to why projects fail, the conclusion is that project failure is preventable with good project planning. When a project starts to fail there are ways to recognize it and recover as early as possible. Planning appropriately for your project and considering all possible elements that might affect it, can be a differentiating factor between failed and successful projects.
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