Everyone has their own project failure definition. For some, a project is a failed endeavor if it fails to meet the deadline or exceed the allocated budget. While others might argue that a failed project is one that fails to satisfy stakeholders’ expectations. Irrespective of how you interpret project failure, it is important to identify the reasons why projects fail.
As Charles R Swindoll puts it, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Despite the evolution of processes and project management software, the project failure rate is still very high. According to Standish Group CHAOS Report, less than a third of all projects were successfully completed. The report further revealed that project failure rates of medium to large sized projects are much higher as compared to smaller ones.
Without further ado, let us take a closer look at some of the common reasons why projects fail and how you can avoid projects transforming into a catastrophe.
6 Reasons Why Projects Fail
Here are six reasons behind project failure.
- Lack of Resources
- Scope Creep
- Poor Project Handling
- Lack of Interest From Stakeholders
- Not Paying Attention To Warning Signs
- Setting Unrealistic Deadlines
1. Lack of Resources
How can you expect a project to successfully complete before the deadline if it lacks the necessary resources? Well, you cannot. The majority of the project managers you speak with will moan about the scarcity of resources. Additionally, they consider it as one of the reasons for project failure.
It is the core responsibility of senior management to provide project managers with the resources required to complete project. Once the top management ensures that the required resources have been arranged and allocated, only then they can hold the project managers accountable for the both success or failure of the project.
2. Scope Creep
According to The State of Project Management Annual Survey 2016 conducted by Wellingtone, more than 34% projects have no baseline. Geneca survey revealed that only 55% of project managers are clear about the business objectives of their projects. Due to scope creep, more than 75% of IT managers think that their projects are doomed from the start.
To reduce the chances of project failure, it is important that you have a clearly defined project scope, which does not change frequently otherwise, it will be extremely difficult for project managers and their respective teams to cope up with scope creep. The best way to do that is to get the project scope in writing and get it signed by all the stakeholders.
3. Poor Project Handling
Mishandling of projects is another issue that takes your project one-step closer to failure. There are many reasons for poor project handling. One of them is inexperienced and non-certified project managers. Lack of skills among the team members can also hinder your project progress.
It is important to conduct weekly or monthly meetings, monitor project progress regularly and hold your team members accountable for what they are doing. Keep things organized and work towards the achievement of a common goal. Identify issues and take concrete steps to solve these problems so that they could not affect your projects negatively.
4. Lack of Interest from Stakeholders
According to project failure statistics from University of Ottawa shows that 33% of projects fail due to lack of interest from top management. Lack of client’s involvement and timely feedback can also drag your projects down the drain.
Keeping the stakeholders in the dark is the main reason why they do not take interest in the project. Conduct frequent meetings with all the stakeholders to keep them informed about the project’s progress. Keep all the stakeholders involved throughout the process, take feedback and try to bring improvements. Once you do that, their engagement will automatically increase.
5. Not Paying Attention to Warning Signs
When a project is about to fail, there will be warning signs of a project’s failure. If a project manager can not sniff out these warning signs, then the project is bound to fail. On the contrary, a project manager who is proactive and takes necessary action can save the project from its doom. Lack of commitment from the team, frequently missed deadlines, and resource diversions are some of the warning signs that project managers should be vigilant about if they wish to protect their project from disaster.
6. Setting Unrealistic Deadlines
One of the most common reasons behind project failure is setting a deadline that is hard to meet. A KPMG project failure report found that 60% of failed projects have a deadline of less than a year. It shows that projects with a deadline of less than a year tend to fail more often. Setting tight deadlines is the perfect recipe for a disaster because it forces your team members to rush through project phases. As a result, the chances of error and poor quality product increases. As a result, they fail to produce results that are associated with a successful project.
Take all factors into consideration that could play their role in delaying your project before setting a deadline for your project. It is better to have a time buffer to complete projects in an effective manner and to assess time each activity will take before deciding on the final deadline of the project.
Project managers can easily reduce the risk of failure by identifying the common reasons that pave the way for project failure. They will have to take steps to prevent these factors from casting negative shadows on their projects. If you want your project to complete on time, then you will have to deliver all the required resources to project managers and prevent project creep from getting out of control.
Keep things organized and avoid mismanagement. Ensure that all your team members are on the same page and united for a common cause. Involvement of stakeholders is critical to your project success. All this will go a long way in helping you in reducing the chances of project failure.