A project failing can have dire consequences at any time, this is especially true during the economic downturn. So how can we define project failure and project success?

So how do we define project failure or success?

Project Failure

Generally it’s easier to name failed projects than successes and there’s also a general perception that large projects have a higher tendency to fail.

High Profile Project Failures

Consider these high profile ‘failures’, the cost of building the Channel Tunnel or Wembley, did any of those projects come close to the original estimates? How successful will the project ‘London 2012 the Olympic and Paralympic Games’ be? Media reports are already reporting substantial cost estimate increases.

Earlier this month the Channel 4 documentary DispatchesHow They Squander Our Billions” [09.03.09] investigated a variety of controversial public projects which have had millions, if not billions, spent on them including the NHS IT scheme [NPfIT] which was originally announced as costing £2.3bn. This later became £6.2bn and £12.7bn is the latest estimate.

Is the project a success?

The general statistics for project failure are outlined below.

Projects Fail and they Fail Often

Why Do Projects Fail?

* Sources: Standish Group, British Computer Society

Can Project Failure be Avoided?

Yes! One of the most likely reasons for project failure is an inadequately trained Project Manager(s).  The implication is that project failure is controllable and avoidable and that the Project Manager has a great deal of responsibility and accountability.  They need the authority to do their job properly and will have the most significant impact on the outcome of a project.

Your Experiences

So what are your own personal experiences of project failure or successes? What were the reasons for the outcome and what lessons can be learned?

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