The success of a project is often defined by meeting the budget, completing in the set time frame and whether it achieved its goals. If it doesn’t meet them, a project could be classed as a failure, this is one of project management’s toughest challenges. In a lot of cases, this can be avoided and in this article, I look at some of the most common reasons for failure in projects and what you can do to prevent it.

Top Reasons for Project Failure

1) Insufficient planning

Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘Failing to plan means planning to fail’? Before diving into any project, there should always be a certain level of detail that goes into planning. If there is a distinct lack of it at the beginning, a Project Manager could find themselves quickly losing control. If people can’t agree in the way a project should be lead, it will certainly lose momentum. There can also be a struggle within your team. They might want to leave room for any issues whereas senior managers will want you to get the project completed in the shortest possible time.

2) Lack of visibility in projects

Issues are caused in projects where people give inaccurate reports and senior managers are unaware of what’s really happening. When running a project, everyone involved needs to have clear visibility of the current status. This includes Project Managers, Team Members and Executive Managers. This can be achieved by setting up a centralised location for all project information.

This will provide full visibility of what everyone is doing and what needs to be completed next. There are a couple of ways that this can be achieved, the first is by using Microsoft SharePoint which can be used to push projects and corresponding documents to. The second is to use a Project & Portfolio Management solution such as Microsoft Project Online which allows users to effectively manage all types of work ranging from simple tasks to complex projects and programs.

3) Lack of methodology or toolset

So many organisations run their projects without having a formal methodology. Along with project tools and templates, a methodology provides a structure to the project life cycle that will clearly define all of your objectives and goals. This will allow you to manage and control the projects in a more effective way. Read our case studies to see how we worked with clients to develop their methodology.

4) Unrealistic timescales

All Project Managers will at some point have spent hours tirelessly creating project schedules. Scheduling is actually one of the most important foundations of any successful project. This is where you define the time frame, milestones and key deliverables. Sometimes stakeholders will set unrealised time frames or goals to speed up delivery. As a Project Manager, you should be able to identify when these issues occur and act accordingly.

5) Poor communication

A lack of communication between Project Managers and Team Members have been pinpointed as one of the single biggest contributing factors to project failure. Team Members need to be aware of current project status. Project Managers are given the responsibility to relay any information about the objectives, budget and report them at each stage of the project. There is no excuse for poor communication, not with so many options readily available, such as email, phone, meetings or Microsoft Teams.

6) Budget constraints

You need to have an overview of the budget at all times. Budgeting should link back to the planning stage where formal baselines should be approved. If an unrealistic budget has been set, this could be the cause of project failure. You should schedule regular meetings at different stages of the project to review it and what you’re likely to need further down the line.

7) Insufficient resources

Lots of organisations suffer from a lack of resources, whether it’s from budget cuts, changes in the organisation or availability of team members. This in turn means resources will be spreading themselves over a number of different projects. This shortage can result in not meeting project goals or objectives causing project failure. If you underestimate the number of resources needed at the beginning of the project, issues will arise. A project management tool such as Microsoft Project Online is a fantastic way to effectively manage resources.

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By: Baz Khinda

Baz Khinda
Commercial Director, BA, MBS, MCTS, CertBusM, PRINCE2, Microsoft P-SSP (Partner Solution Sales professional)

Published: 15 May 2015

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