Causes of Project Failure

Author: Bit Software
Date: 06- 09- 2011

As I read on an article by Michelle Symonds (project manager trainer at ProjectSmart in UK), many complex, long-term projects fail to live up to their promises and produce disappointing outcomes on completion. First of all for exceeding their budgets or deadlines or both. „Project managers often have a poor reputation for delivering what was expected without budget or time over-runs. And one of the industries with the worst record is the technology industry where failures are said to exceed 50% of all projects undertaken”, said Symonds.
As she said, „organisations make commitments to major projects, but cannot always deliver what was expected and, more worryingly, cannot determine how much value they are getting from their investment”.

According to Symonds, there are 15 most common causes of project failure:

  1. Poorly defined project scope.
  2. Inadequate risk management.
  3. Failure to identify key assumptions.
  4. Project managers who lack experience and training.
  5. No use of formal methods and strategies.
  6. Lack of effective communication at all levels.
  7. Key staff leaving the project and/or company.
  8. Poor management of expectations.
  9. Ineffective leadership.
  10. Lack of detailed documentation.
  11. Failure to track requirements.
  12. Failure to track progress.
  13. Lack of detail in the project plans.
  14. Inaccurate time and effort estimates.
  15. Cultural differences in global projects.

Among these, are three potential causes of project failure (Project Scope, Risks and Key Assumptions) that are the most important of all, said Michelle Symonds, and, „if dealt with fully and completely, can help to avoid project failure”.