Why Do Projects Really Fail

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Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 132
Joined: Wed 08 Sep 2010 1:38 pm
Location: Westminster - London

Hi, have you ever wondered what the real reason for project failure is?

Coincidentally this is the same main reason why most customers leave a company and do not return.

Yes most books and courses skip around the edges of project failure highlighting bad planning, bad scheduling, bad budgeting, unforeseen circumstances and a whole host of other administrative reasons or excuses for why the project came in over budget, over time and under scope. Again coincidentally, when it comes to lack of customer retention, the marketing and sales department, production, distribution and a whole host of other departments do exactly the same.

Lets look the main reasons why customers lose their loyalty and do not return to a firm.

Convenience 3%.
This means that three percent of the time customers will not return to your company just because it is more convenient to do business with someone else.

Relationships 9%.
This means that customers will leave your business if they form a more powerful and meaningful relationship with someone else, e.g. like their brother or sister opens a similar business in their area.

Product or Price 15%.
This means that customers will leave your business and not return if they find the product or price of the product is better somewhere else.

Miscellaneous 5%.
This means that for a variety of other reasons the customer just does not want to do business with your company.

So adding these up.

Product or Price.....15%
Total ...........just 32%

Its surprising that most companies when trying to maintain customer retention always focus on and spend most time and money on the above four categories that in fact only account for 32% of lost customers.

This means that 68% of customers do not want to do repeat business with your company is for a totally different reason.


So what is this awesome reason for lost customers and project failure?


This is where YOUR CUSTOMER perceives that your employees the people that they are relying on to provide a service really just DO NOT CARE.

So, what has this to do with project management?

Simple, THE INTERNAL CUSTOMER, yes every person working for your company is both a receiver and provider of information, goods or services to someone else. This by definition forms the supplier/customer relationship and if the 'Customer' perceives that the 'Supplier' just does not really care about them, their time, their responsibilities or their commitments, then your company and your project has a major problem to overcome.

So, what is perceived indifference?

From a customer perspective this is not getting the major things right, a customer expects the product to comply with what is advertised, they expect say a hotel room to be clean and comfortable and the staff to be polite. These are the things that companies cover in thier total customer satisfaction campaigns. Percieved Indiference covers all the little things that make a customer really unhappy, its the things that bring a disapointed frawn on the customers face or cause him or her to Hmmm or tut in disapointment. Its instances like, when they phone your company and are kept waiting on the phone for 20 minutes only to be either cut off or to have someone who cannot adequately deal with their problem when they answer the call. It's when a customer has to wait to be served by a checkout person who is discussing their love life with a colleague or is not trained to answer basic product or service questions. It’s when a customer is invited to a meeting only to be continually interrupted by the person answering the phone or dealing with other enquires. It’s when the customer is promised something at a specific time and date and it does not materialise on time or it does materialise but is not what the customer ordered wanted.

From an internal perspective its when an employee is called to an office and is kept waiting or upon entering is not aknowledged by the person who feels the piece of paper in front of him or her is more important than the other employees time. Its when the employee is told that the person will get back to them immediately with essential information only to be kept waiting for hours on end only to be told 'Oh I am so busy I forgot to get back to you'.

The list of basic inefficiencies in service provision and attitude can go on and on and collectively in the customers mind screams out 'YOU REALY JUST DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT ME’ or coined above as 'PERCIEVED INDIFERENCE'.

Now when it comes to project management the principle is exactly the same, the only difference is that now the 'CUSTOMER' is the internal customer (every single person working for the company and in particular on the project) 'WHO HAS A RIGHT TO TOTAL CUSTOMER CARE AND SATISFACTION'.

Percieved indiference in this instance can come from line managers who delay or obstruct their employees from getting on with the project work by encroaching into project time with demands for other non project work to be completed. Or by project team members who inwardly view the project work as just another laborious additional task, or an encroachment onto thier already busy schedule. Perhaps the indiference manifest itself in the form of a lower rate of output compared to the thier normal days activities that are under the guidance of their line manager.

All of these indiferences must be addressed in the project induction meeting because believe it or not, as far as the project is concerned, the Project Manager is the ultimate customer who needs to receive timely and accurate information or services from above and from his or her team members and any other person or organisation associated with the project.

Here is a major consideration:
How many project management jobs are described as 'high stress jobs' where interpersonal skills is required of the project manager as a key attribute in getting things done. Yes interpersonal skills, politeness and a congenial personality are prerequisites for good management and business as a whole, but, project managers should not be expected to have to beg to get things done, nor for essential information, or for urgent approvals that are on time from busy executives or any other work commitments of their team members.

Demanding a professional customer/supplier relationship throughout the whole of the company should be a minimum prerequisite for every employee no matter what their rank and acts of 'INDIFERENCE' should be actively discourage if not actively abolished.
Kind regards

Stephan Toth
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