Top ten reasons why a project fails

December 23, 2011
By admin

1. Poor planning:

Who are your IT managers and do they get enough opportunity to plan or under pressure from senior management they tend to think planning as a waste of time because they believe that time is better spent doing something rather than planning. Do you involve your project team in planning? Do they have the skills and experience to make complete plans? Or you always ask them to implement the solution. These are fundamental questions that need to be answered first.

2. Unclear goals and objectives:

Many IT projects are elaborated progressively and in these scenarios project managers rely on rolling wave planning. As a result, the goal of a project may be only partially clear due to a poor requirement gathering in the definition stage of the project. In such case, the scope and schedule developed by project managers cannot possibly be accurate because their objectives are unclear. Defining clear requirements for a project can take time and lots of communication.

3. Poor Stakeholder Management:

Project stakeholders’ interests may be positively or negatively impacted by the project and that is why stakeholders’ influence on the project is the most important thing to consider. Stakeholders who are found later will make changes and could cause delays. Any change that is made later is harder to integrate and is much more costly.

4. Scope creep and Feature creep due to objectives changing during the project :

Uncontrolled and unexpected changes in user /stakeholder expectations and requirements as a project progress always negatively impact a project. This is known as scope creep. Many times new features are added to the project with a wrong assumption that one small feature will add nothing to cost or schedule. This unplanned addition is called feature creep.

5. Unrealistic time or resource estimates:

Many times project managers make costly mistakes while estimating time or resources. One common mistake is made during the creation of the Work Breakdown Structure. Often it is assumed that the time on task equals duration. Project managers estimate the time on task is the time the task will take to complete. How about interruptions? Some may be known and some may be unknown. Do project managers anticipate interruptions? In reality duration is the time the task actually takes to complete including interruptions.

Another common problem is using linear approximation when estimating the schedule For example, if you double the number of developers, you can cut the project time in half. In reality, doubling the number of developers produces a non-linear result.

6. Improper delegation of task and responsibilities:

Many times project managers fail to delegate tasks and responsibilities to the team in such a way that they should fit team members’ job descriptions. When team members are asked to work outside their specialization (often as added responsibilities), they not only go through a learning curve but also tend to lose focus on the project objectives. This always results in confusion among the team members and eventually cost and time overruns.

7. Lack of executive support and user involvement:

IT managers face many difficulties in managing projects and the lack of executive support and user involvement are the two main reasons of IT project failures. Many times IT project managers work as project coordinators or project expediters and without executive support they cannot personally make and enforce decisions. The second reason is user involvement and often the project planners fail to plan human solutions to the very human users that the product is proposed to serve.

8. Failure to communicate and act as a team:

Projects sometimes fail due to improper communication. Many large IT projects are so complex that these projects always require large amount of analysis and work. The project teams are busy doing the analysis, creating WBS, time estimation etc. and project managers do not communicate progress regularly because they believe that progress will not be seen by the executive management or they fear of improper reporting.

9. Lack of proper risk management:

Another potential cause for project failure is the IT managers’ inability to categorize all the risks qualitatively and quantitatively and implement corrective measures.

10. Inappropriate skills:

The rapid changes of the technology-driven business environment and the constant changes of technology make it hard to predict skills the IT department will be needed.

Almost all large IT projects require a diverse range of skills. Many teams lack the breadth, and depth they require. Also dearth of qualified people in the labor market and high attrition rate of the industry add many problems to the projects. Often, projects mangers spend substantial amount of their time in recruitment related activities.

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