Why do projects fail

Why do Projects fail? 2

Why do Projects fail? 2 700 400 Comidor Low-code Automation Platform

Indeed, project leaders and their teams have to pay attention to several factors in order to deliver their projects on time, on budget and with the expected quality. In this second and last part we present particular examples of what might go wrong with a project’s Stakeholders, Communications, Scope and Progress and lead the project to fail…

5. Inadequate Stakeholders Management

Mark Lundquist, Director of Project Management at Inergex, LLC, has no doubt that the leading cause of project failure is lack of effective stakeholder management. This would include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Drive project prioritization within the organization from Ideation through deployment
  • Communicate project definition (business case & deliverable expectations) 
  • Act as a key decision point for changes in scope, budget and schedule 

Unfortunately, as Deb Schaffer, PMP and Principal at ProProjectManager.com, emphasizes, “many projects are started but folks really don’t know what they want. They give a general overview of what they think it should be, but never really think about the real requirements”. Therefore Project Management Teams should have experience, technical knowledge and communication skills to elicit the real stakeholders’ (clients, sponsors etc.) needs.

6. Ineffective Communications

Carlos Nunez, Founder of caranna.works, considers wrong communication during the project life cycle as the most important reason for projects’ failure mentioning the common case where “the client say one thing, the engineering department understand and implement another thing, the marketing team will campaign yet another thing, and so on. He points out that “by the time the project’s delivered, the client either hates it or tolerates it, and more money and time will need to be spent fixing the holes”.

Ian Henderson, CTO of global language service provider Rubric, suggests that “an appointed manager is needed to serve as a single point-of-contact for clients, internal stakeholders and sub-contractors”. While Keith Johnston from True North Leadership stresses that “effective project leaders should communicate with their project teams on a regular basis to be able to identify and correct issues before the project is in jeopardy”.

7. Lack of Scope Change Management

Deb Schaffer cautions us that “once the scope of the project is determined, it’s important not to stray from that scope without concurrence of the customer and sponsor and an evaluation of the change to budget, schedule and quality”.

But usually, as Keith Johnston points out, “project managers either underestimate the impact of the scope change on their budget and timeline, or they are uncomfortable telling the project sponsors that the changes will impact the budget and timeline”. Didier Koffi, Business Architect and Business Systems Analyst Consultant and member of Mentors Guild, explains that they actually act “ignoring the rules dictated by the Project Management Triangle: balancing Scope, Schedule and Cost”. Deb Schaffer considers that in this way “they lead projects to lose focus and often fail its original objectives”.

8. Inadequate Progress Monitoring

According to Nick Espinosa CIO of BSSi2 LLC, “with a good plan and status check-ins you can ensure that the path your project is taking is correct”. For this reason he advises project managers “to keep a constant oversight”. However as he has noticed “so many managers simply assign projects with a “Just get it done” mentality which often times means the execution can miss the forest from the trees”.

Keith Johnston underlines key features of project leaders that can help them in progress monitoring:

  • motivate their teams, 
  • know how to say ‘no’ to scope expansion
  • act quickly and decisively when the unexpected occurs
  • have a vision for how the project will run successfully and this vision serves as a compass that keeps the project on track.

Project leaders are also responsible to not let the fear of failure affect the progress of project. Daniel DiGriz, CEO of MadPipe, argues that “the projects fail from a commitment to fear”. He explains that “what this commitment looks like is a disproportionate focus on details at the expense of momentum – a resistance to achieving the next highest valuable deliverable. In fear, companies retreat back into planning, and specifically back into the easiest variables to manage or control. In other words, they retreat from achievement back into management. If you’ve ever spent weeks deciding on what color something should be, and endlessly discussing mockups, you’re looking at a project that will fail”.

Read also what can go wrong with a project’s Plan, Resources, Team and Risks Mitigation and lead the project to fail.. and keep in mind that Project Management Tools and Methodologies can help us to deliver successful projects only if they are used properly!