There are no risk-free projects in the software industry. Irrespective of whether you are using agile, scrum or any other development methodology, chances of project failure cannot be entirely ruled out. 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. That’s why choosing the right project software is imperative. EPM Live SharePoint project management provides a robust feature-set helping organizations overcome hurdles and achieve project success.
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.