Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Tips For Avoiding Project Failure

~ By Don Wood

Way to success and avoiding failure concept on a blackboard

Studies have shown that many IT projects are considered to be failures. The Standish Group has reported high failure rates for years and recently a study by KPMG found that about half of the respondents reported at least one failed project in the past year. Why do projects fail? The reasons are too numerous and varied to identify; however, I'll discuss some common failure points. This is not isolated to IT; it applies to any type of project such as improving a business process, performing a software selection, or anything that can be defined as a "project." So, what is the definition of a "project?" According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a project is a unique temporary endeavour, with a set beginning and end.

Now that we've defined a project we should also define "project failure." That is to say, how do you know if the project failed or succeeded? Ah! That is actually one of the reasons projects fail! In other words, not defining the success criteria can lead to failure. For example, if we implemented a new software system and it worked exactly as the vendor stated, but nobody in the company uses it, was the project a failure or a success? I worked on a project for a large Federal Government Agency and something similar happened. It was on a project that occurred before I arrived. There was a large IT project that was scrapped because the business didn't like the way it worked. But people in the IT Department were patting themselves on the back for delivering the product on time. Sounds like a failure to me!

Okay, so what are some common reasons projects fail?

  • Lack of clear scope of work
  • Not defining the project success criteria and expectations
  • Lack of communication
  • Inadequate planning
  • Lack of skilled resources
  • Unrealistic time, budget, and/or scope
  • Lack of risk management
  • Lack of Senior Management and Business ownership support and involvement

As I said before, there are many reasons why a project may fail, but if you take care of these common issues your rate of success will be much improved.


Don Wood is a PMP with over 25 years of experience in project management, business process improvement and information technology for the Real Estate industry. Don blogs about his Real Estate Technology experiences at DBRW Real Estate Technology


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
How many letters are in the word four?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

The Risky Business of Project Management

Three red dice reading: Manage your risk

It is important at the beginning of any project to go through the risk identification process. Not all project risks are obvious, so here's how.

Four Steps to Project Time Management

Man pointing at an alarm clock

The four steps outlined in this article will help you better define and measure the activities that make up your project timeline.

Resourcing Project Managers

Project manager jobs advert in a newspaper

Ironically, although resourcing production team members is a significant part of a Project Manager's role, very little focus is placed on resourcing the Project Managers themselves.

72 Project Management Tips

Hand holding a key with success written on the fob

Here are 72 project management tips designed to help you lead your projects with skill, authority and grace.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Esther commented on…
How 20 Minutes Each Morning Can Transform Your Day as a Manager
- Sun 15 January 5:11pm

Eddie Ignacio commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Tue 10 January 4:24pm

Peter Giger commented on…
A Brief History of Project Management | Project Smart
- Thu 5 January 4:50pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Re: Junior PM needs advice - potentially being moved to a project… https://t.co/vJMX8Atrw1 #projectsmart #pmot about 4 days ago

General Project Management • How You Can Contribute to Project Management https://t.co/PVgI0hQHE7 #projectsmart #pmot about 5 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Technical PM https://t.co/haAZFc4GA9 #projectsmart #pmot about 5 days ago