10 Reasons Projects Fail – Achieve Success with EPM Live PPM

EPM Live has been conducting a series of blog posts about Project Portfolio Management (PPM) and through its analysis it brings up points about project constraints and issues that can lead to project failure.  There are no risk-free projects, period, but there are key indicators and best practices to give you the advantage of avoiding a failure.

A project’s planning and strategy is only as good as its execution – you goof up at any stage and it can lead to catastrophic effects. Old school practitioners often argue that success and failure are relative terms when it comes to project execution. What classifies a project as a mediocre success in one company might be treated as a marginal failure in another. The barometer to measure a project’s success is simple – it should satisfy the business requirements of primary stakeholders on time and within the allocated budget.

I believe that the following 10 reasons are the most common causes of project failures in the software industry.

1. Ambiguous Requirements

Ambiguous and unclear requirements are a prefect recipe for disaster for any project. Even worse, the longer it takes to get the ambiguity resolved, the costlier it gets. Ideally, such concerns should be addressed during the project planning stage as any spillovers to subsequent stages can be fatal to the overall success of the project.

2. Poor Stakeholder Involvement

A project’s success is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders. If any of the primary stakeholders shy away from their responsibilities, it can put the project’s future in jeopardy. Stakeholders’ influence on a project is undeniable. If stakeholders only get involved during the latter stages of a project, it can lead to significant delays and additional costs to cater to their change requests.

3. Unrealistic Expectations

While it’s important for stakeholders to collaborate for a project’s success, a “please all” approach which sets unrealistic expectations will only lead to problems. Project Managers are often under severe pressure from clients and senior management to get projects delivered as quickly as possible. Compromising quality to cut down on time doesn’t work and is bound to backfire at some stage or the other.

4. Poor Management

A team is only as good as its manager and vice-versa. If a project is poorly managed, corrective action should be taken or else the project is destined to be a failure. Tasks should be properly delegated and monitored; any delays should be escalated to all stakeholders as soon as possible. Managers should have a contingency plan in place if things don’t quiet go as per the original plan.

5. Poor Staffing

You can’t fit a round peg in a square hole. Resources with inappropriate skills may increase a project’s headcount but they serve as liabilities rather than assets for a project. The 2+2=4 rule doesn’t always work in project management; it can often be 2+2=3 or even 2+2=1.5.

6. Poor Teamwork

Even if you have rock star programmers and best in the class project managers, a project’s fate is uncertain if the individuals fail to deliver as a team. Friction and differences of understanding between team members hamper the overall morale of any project.

7. Forever Changing Requirements

There’s often no end to a customer’s wishlist of features. However, not all the features for a project are equally critical. It is very important that all features for a project be clearly identified as must have, should have, could have and won’t have. The project’s requirements must be frozen during the planning stage and any deviations should follow a standard change request management procedure.

8. Poor Leadership

A Manager should lead by example. If the leadership is poor, it affects the morale of the team. Being a Project Manager isn’t the easiest job in the world, but then that’s why many project managers are well respected and well paid.

9. Cultural & Ethical Misalignment

In today’s age of globalization, having cross-cultural and geographically diverse teams collaborate on a project is more of a norm, rather than an exception. While cultural and ethical challenges can be difficult to tackle, the team must work on the single objective of making the project successful. A time zone, geographical, cultural and ethical differences don’t matter – what matters is the project!

10. Inadequate Communication

It’s often said that no communication is far worse than miscommunication and software projects are no exception to this rule. Communication is the lifeline of any software project – be it between customers and other stakeholders, manager and developers, developers and testers, or the team as a whole. Crisp and clear communication is an absolute must.

A failed project does no good to anyone. With meticulous planning and methodical execution, a company can minimize the risks involved in a project and ensure that it will succeed. One last common factor in project failure is scattered processes and a lack of centralized information and collaboration. Solely working from excel and email have proven to be timely and costly with project planning and execution. Provide your organization and project teams the tools they need to be successful. Selecting the right project software not only gives you a competitive advantage in today’s market but it gives you all the tools and best practices to keep your thumb on the pulse of all aspects of the project. Recently recognized by Gartner Inc.in the 2012 Magic Quadrant, EPM Live offers one of the most robust Enterprise Project, Portfolio and Work Management systems on the market, try your Free Trial today!