- Decision-making problems
- Lack of effective communication
- Poor project tracking
- Lack of project management skills
- Issues concerning quality
- Poor information management leads to project failure
- Failure to implement effective risk management
- Ineffective planning
- Incorrect estimations
- Team issues
- Disregarding signs of impending project failure
- Failure to establish a clear process by which key decisions are made. This can cause indecision and confusion.
- There are unanswered questions regarding decisions that are made. This can again cause confusion. You may answer the ‘who, why, when, where, and how’ components of a decision, for example, but other queries may not be finalised.
- You go for the first solution, and key decisions are made without identifying alternatives or considering different options.
- The team tries to avoid making difficult decisions because they are worried about the stakeholders’ reactions.
- Ineffective decisions are made due to a lack of situational awareness.
- Expert advice is never solicited or is simply ignored when making decisions of critical importance.
- Key decisions are made by individuals who do not have the subject matter expertise to be making such decisions.
Lack of effective communication
Poor project tracking
However, if you do not take the necessary steps to track the project effectively, it shouldn’t be a shock at all if something goes wrong. Firstly, you need to make sure there is a system in place whereby people are reminded of their upcoming commitments and activities. This could be a software solution that tracks all tasks relating to the project. Do not simply assume that someone is going to remember to do something because they were told about it once.
You should also track the project based on smaller increments, as opposed to large work items. Regular monitoring of vendor or sub-contractor performance is also essential, and you should never simply believe that your team will catch up if they are behind. Pressure to mark a task as complete can also result in quality being compromised – it’s important to know where to draw the line.
You also need to make sure you do not dismiss information that may show the project is running into difficulties, and don’t simply gloss over any bad news when presenting to stakeholders and managers. It is important that everyone is on the same page; otherwise, the problem will only get worse. Another common reason for project failure in regards to project tracking is because project managers often publish a project plan, yet they then fail to follow up on it or amend it as necessary. You need to track the plan to ensure that any issues are addressed early so that they do not cause further problems and delays.
Lack of project management skills
You will learn about the different approaches you can apply to various projects, how to deal with difficult situations that may arise, how to manage time and expectations effectively, risk management, and much, much more. You will also learn about managing remote teams, which is becoming more and more of a reality for project managers today. These are skills that can only be taught – no one naturally has all of the makings of a successful project manager. So, a lack of project management training is definitely a reason for project failure, which is why so many organisations invest in training for their PMs.
Issues concerning quality
- Testing your project in an environment that is not configured in the same way as the target production. This can lead to inaccurate results.
- Failure to discuss quality requirements. This is one of the biggest reasons for issues concerning quality to arise, as it means that people end up with different expectations regarding the standards that need to be achieved. It is important, therefore, to manage project expectations fully.
- Leaving integration and testing of individual components until the completion of all development activities. If you do this, problems may go undetected until it is too late.
- Ignoring complex situations during the testing phase, instead only focusing on simple test cases.
- There is a lack of responsibility. Quality is something that should be seen as a shared responsibility, and all members of the team should be aware of this. However, some project members will see quality as the responsibility of the Quality Assurance team.
- Quality is only viewed in terms of testing and not as a mindset throughout the whole project.
- Failure to focus on issues of substance when reviewing design papers and documents, and instead focusing on the likes of grammar and spelling.
- Failure to plan appropriate checkpoints, tests or reviews whereby quality can be verified.
Poor information management leads to project failure
Failure to implement effective risk management
Aside from this, provide sufficient user training when necessary, make sure the project plan includes appropriate culture change activities, and prioritise requirements effectively. Failure to do the latter can result in the team focusing their energy on items that are of a lower priority, instead of high priority work. You also need to ensure that you do not overload certain team members with work and under-utilise others. The team members that are overloaded could experience a downfall in their performance levels, which could impact critical areas of the project.
- The assumption that a new system, process or tool is going to lead to instant improvements in productivity.
- Failure to build in contingency to handle unknowns.
- Failure to use performance data that has been culled from prior projects when doing estimations.
- Omitting smaller scale ctivities when estimating and solely focusing on big ticket items.
- Failing to validate, discuss or document assumptions that are used for estimating.
- Insufficient analysis or information is used during estimations.
- Estimations are carried out without a corresponding statement of scope.
- Allowing a customer, sales agent or manager to bully the team into commitments that are simply unrealistic.
- Arbitrarily cutting estimates for the purpose of making a project more attractive or securing a contract.
- Excluding those who are going to perform the work from the estimating process. They are the most valuable people when determining how much work is required and how long it is going to take.
Omissions, errors and confusion can arise when there is a lack of clear roles and responsibilities and, naturally, problems can occur if there are not enough team members to complete the work you have committed to. The team also needs to have the correct training in the processes and technology that is going to be used, and non-performance of individual team members and poor team dynamics must be addressed.
Disregarding signs of impending project failure
Hopefully, you now have a clear picture regarding what can cause project failure. Try and be alert to some of the scenarios that could derail your project so you can avoid them in the future. If you avoid the mistakes mentioned in this post, you can go a long way to making sure that your project is a success.