Why do so many projects fail?


Everyone has been there. First, you get really psyched about  a new project. You  conduct thorough research, make sound plans, form a competent team, and get to work. Then, somewhere along the way, things start to crumble. Deadlines are not met. Deliverables fall short of expectations. Customers and managers are, to put it mildly, dissatisfied. Everything turned into a big mess.

But, why do so many projects fail?

When does a project become a failure?

Managing a project from start to finish can be a real challenge as it requires a lot of time and money, diligence, and commitment. It’s a worthy investment when the objective is achieved; however, despite all efforts, many projects still fail. This causes huge financial losses for businesses and demoralizes employees.

A project is considered successful if the project team completed the project requirements on time and on budget. In some cases, however, the stakeholders determine whether the project was a success or failure based on their judgment and satisfaction with the outcome.

There are several reasons for this, and the good news is that you can overcome each of them and make your next project a success.

Common reasons for project failure

1. No clear goals and objectives

Starting a project without clear goals and objectives is a sure fire way to guarantee project failure. After all, how can you succeed if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve? Project objectives should be clearly defined so that you can tell whether you’re doing the right thing or not as time goes on. Remember that setting measurable goals allows you to better visualize your progress and see how close you are to achieving your target outcome.

2. Poor Project Planning

Without planning, your project will most likely fall behind schedule. Aside from   missing the deadline, you could exceed your budget, and if your project does not launch on time, you may miss out on opportunities, lose customers, and sales.

You don’t need to plan your project in great detail;  however, it is critical to define the key dates for when each stage of the project should be completed. Allow flexibility for unexpected events as it is better to have a long timeline but finish earlier than the other way around.

3. Lack of Communication

Another main cause for project failure is a lack of communication. How do you know who is doing what or who needs assistance if team members do not properly communicate with one another?

Communication is a crucial part of project success. Working together not only promotes teamwork and creativity, it also build bonds and trust among the team.

4. Unrealistic expectations

Unrealistic expectations, sometimes disguised as unwavering optimism, have devastated many projects. When you want something done quickly, with a limited budget and a small team, it can cause your project to fail. Only by being realistic about your team’s capabilities, budget, deadlines, and available resources will you be able to achieve the desired results.

5. Scope Creep

One of the most common reasons for project failure is scope creep. This refers to changes requested after the project has already begun and were not originally agreed. This is common when projects are not properly documented and defined in advance.

It starts with a simple request to add an item here, expand a service there, and before you know it, your project scope has exceeded and your team is overloaded. You haven’t allocated a budget, time or resources needed to complete the extra tasks, so what could have been a huge success becomes an infuriating failure.


The way to project success

The takeaway from this article is: advance planning is essential for risk management and project success. You can establish a track record of success and crush key objectives by empowering your team to plan strategically and account for all of your project’s moving parts. So here’s to careful planning and many successful projects in the future.

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